Never too late
Nearly two years ago, after 20 odd years of leaving education, I started the Pre-Access course. It was an impulse decision and I was uncertain what I wanted to do for a career in the future. I was happy to learn, I'm on a low income and was able to get funding from the college for transport and childminding. This really helped with returning to education.
On my first day, I was really nervous, but my lecturer was very welcoming and helpful. As a quiet person I struggled with group tasks and presentations, but my lecturer was so kind and had loads of patience to help me become more confident.
I had originally wanted to go straight to Access but when I enrolled for it the lecturer felt I would be more suited to the Pre-Access course instead, because of my family commitments, health issues and not having been in education for so long. I can't emphasize how right she was when I look back!
Last September I started the Access course and it was here that all that I had been taught in Pre-Access became really useful. My academic writing was much better and some of the knowledge I had learnt tied in with subjects I was doing on Access. Without Pre-Access I could have struggled very badly! It was also nice to return to a familiar place with friendly lecturers and I found that the routine of the Pre-Access course had prepared me for the Access course.
On both the Pre-Access and Access courses, the lecturers are all willing to help if you don't understand anything, there is always feedback given back on completed work which inspires you to carry on. There is always praise and ideas to help you improve. The lecturers will always make their lessons interesting and easy to follow.
Both courses have given me much more confidence and after being a mum for so long – it’s amazing to feel that somewhere I do have a brain after all! Although at times it has been stressful - deadlines to complete and such - I feel the sense of achievement far outweighs it and I definitely feel prepared for university. I have also learnt so many interesting facts, some of which have completely changed my perspective of things! The Access course also helps with applying for university and it's been so helpful to have lecturers ready to help and give ideas with personal statements and in general to do their best to help you to get onto your chosen course.
I would also like to mention a little bit about mental health. When I first enrolled on the Pre-Access course I didn't want to mention that I suffer from depression and anxiety. There were several reasons for this: firstly, I did not want to be rejected from the course, secondly, I didn't want to be seen as needing extra help and thirdly, I thought that being at college would cure my mental health problems.
I was wrong.
During my time on Pre-Access I had to talk to my lecturer about my anxiety. The lecturer was incredibly understanding. I found out that there was a Wellbeing Centre in college that could help.
So when I enrolled for the Access course I mentioned my mental health problems. For me, knowing that the lecturers knew helped tremendously, knowing that there was a Wellbeing Centre on-site gave peace of mind. And on the days I couldn't get in, nobody was moaning at me because of it. I've never felt stigmatized by any lecturer due to my mental health.
So for anyone with mental health issues: please say! The college will do everything they can do to help - all the college want you to do is succeed and move forwards towards your dream career!
I’m so happy that I made the decision to return to education and cannot wait to take my next step and start university!