Friday, 30 May 2014

Thinking of becoming a mature student? Go For It!

  • The first and most obvious reason to go back into education is to learn more about what you love. Although I am really happy with the path I am on now, I'm still not 100% certain what I want to be when I grow up... And I'm, erm old! Those decisions you made when you left school at 16 or 18 do not have to define you for the rest of your life. If you have a secret passion, interest or a skill or hobby that you can develop then go for it. We all change, adapt and grow. Education certainly helps you to do this and reach whatever the hell you want to reach for: New heights, The Stars, The Top of the Career Ladder, take your pick! Once you get the taste for learning, you'll never want to stop. My only concern now is there's so much I want to learn. How and when will I ever fit it all in?!

  • There's no time! Yes, I thought the same. If I wasn't a full time veterinary nurse, I was a full time single Mummy. How and when exactly would I go to college or university full time? It just didn't seem possible. But it is, trust me. If you have a full time job, I’m sure with a bit of research into your local adult education centres or colleges you'll be able to find a course that suits you at the evening or weekend. Part timer? I only have to attend college 14 hours a week and I am considered to be a full time student. My university have told me I will only actually attend lectures for 8-10 hours a week. Sure, I am expected to be an independent learner, and use my time to research my work, and NOT watch Jeremy Kyle or This Morning, but you see. It's not as rigid as it may seem. Go to open days and ask the course tutors about what is on offer. You'll be surprised how flexible and accessible things are.

  • Hang on... Where will my kids go? I can't afford extra childcare! How will I pay for my course fees? The only adults that go back to university are fairly well-off... Again, I thought this would be an obstacle for me too. I called the college a week before I was due to start the course to say, although I had been approved for a student finance loan to cover my course fees, there was no way I could afford childcare... Not a problem! They paid for my childcare fees, all I had to do was collect a form from the college and get my Ofsted registered childcare provider to complete it. Simples! I could not believe it, not only was my course covered by student finance, (via a loan that gets written off if I complete my higher education course) but my childcare was paid for by the college. AND; there was more. I was eligible for a hardship bursary because I was a single parent on a low income. I received help with travel and stationary costs. Obviously, everyone's situation is different, and it depends on your individual circumstances, the college or university you wish to attend, the course you are doing and your age. But if you don't inquire, you will never know. That is the one thing I have discovered. There are a variety of ways to fund your adult education, but they're not always advertised. You need to ask. For me university starts in September, and of course, like the majority of British students, I have had to take out a loan to pay for my tuition fees. I realise that getting into debt, during these harsh economical times isn't ideal. However a student-loan is the most affordable loan you'll ever take out. And it is funding a career you'll love and a better future for you and your family. Personally, I would much rather invest in my personal development than a new car or kitchen. But that's just me. The main point to take away, is, if it's finance or funding that is holding you back, it really doesn't have to. Contact your local college or adult education service to see what you're entitled to and check out Student Loans Company

  • You'll meet new people! The friends I have made since September are wonderful, and I am certain that we'll remain friends for years to come. My social life since starting my course has improved dramatically. It has been so nice to meet like-minded people with similar interests to me. Adult education generally attracts people who genuinely want to learn and get the most out of the course, and because you're on the same course, you'll have similar interests. Not many of my friends outside of college are interested in literature and reading, other than 50 Shades... (Sorry guys!) So to be able to share this love with friends is wonderful. You also get to know people that you ordinarily, wouldn't necessarily get to know in your everyday life. I've met some really interesting characters that, I simply would not have encountered otherwise.

  • It's scary! Yes it is. Having myself not been in a classroom setting for nearly 20 years I was nervous, I felt too old and uneducated. I needn't have worried. Students varied in age on my course from 20 years old to 79 years old! There's a mixed range of abilities too, but the setting is very inclusive. I quickly got talking to my fellow students, and the tutors put everyone at ease with their approach. Being an adult student, you are treated very differently to those days back at school. Lessons are informal and interactive and you come away wanting more. A thirst for knowledge is generated. I actually began looking forward to my further research, lessons and assignments.

If you're considering going back into education my advice would be to do it! Or at least look into it before you write it off as impossible. It is, without doubt, one of the best decisions I have ever made. When I began last September, I wasn't sure that it was the right move for me. My Mum was hospitalised, having gruelling chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant for Myeloma. I was on my own with the kids and already felt that I had no time to myself. I was exhausted. I kind of got swept along with the process and just thought I'd see where it would take me, not hopeful that I'd stick it out with everything else that was going on. Some how I did stick it out, I even managed excellent grades, I made new friends, and in a way I had more time for myself. For the few hours a week that I am at colege, I'm not Mum, I'm just me, doing something for myself, and it's great. Yet it will also benefit my little Ls in the long term, so there is no parental guilt associated with it, like there is so often when you spend time on yourself.

So, if you have a passion that you want to explore, go for it. If you're longing for a new career, take those first steps in getting it. Set your goal and find a way of achieving it. It's not always easy, but it's also not always as difficult as you think. Go for it, and keep me posted on your plans.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

My little Ls explained...

The strap line of my blog mentions that I love my little Ls. However, it has occurred to me, that those of you that don't know me personally, may be wondering what or who the heck these little Ls are.

Let me explain. My little Ls are simply my world, they are of course my kids.

My little Ls and me.
Conveniently, their names begin with L, fitting with my alliterative blog title!

My Reading List for June

Well, it's been a busy old time of late in my house. Over the past two weeks I have had two poorly children; one with a particularly nasty bout of tonsillitis, the other resulting in an ambulance call! Along with three major assignments/presentations for college. 
In addition there have been various social events; a friend's gig, indoor BBQs, movie nights... The list goes on. Not that I am complaining mind! Can't beat a full diary. Gives me less time to dwell and think!
With all of this excitement, I have had very little time for reading. :-( Don't get me wrong, I've still managed to squeeze some reading in on most days, but nowhere near on the scale I'd like.
Therefore I have decided to dedicate the month of June to reading. There's only one 'full' week left at college, which saddens me. I love college, but it will free up a lot of time for me, until university begins in September. There's a huge reading list to get through, made up of university texts and books I personally want to read.

I am reading this book for context. My final college assignment is a presentation on a novel of my choice, identifying its theme, and how well it conveys its theme through literary devices. This book is the sequel to the novel I have chosen: 'The Woman who Walked Into Doors'. Roddy Doyle.
I love Roddy Doyle's work. He creates wonderful working class protagonists. I am particularly taken with Paula, an ordinary working class wife, mother, sister, alcoholic and domestic violence survivor. She is such a rounded, authentic character and such a protagonist is rare to find, especially one created by a male writer. As is often the case, the first book is, in my opinion, a better read than the sequel, yet for me, this is still a page turner. Review to follow shortly...

Yes I know, literature student, and I've not read this before. One of the top 10 most read books in the world. I'm getting there...

Ok, so I've not read this either. Again, a bit controversial for a student of literature!

This one is being reviewed for Mumsnet Book Club. Adored Hosseini's previous work, so I'm sure this will be no different. 

Uni text, looks really interesting and will help me prepare for degree-level studies, but not exactly page turning excitement? We'll see, looking forward to getting stuck in.

I've followed Sarah Pinborough on Twitter for a while, not read any of her work before, so looking forward to reading and reviewing this, her tweets are witty and sarcastic. Can't really go wrong.

This is another recommended university text written by Francine Prose. Incidentally, I also have one of her novels to review. Not sure which order to read these in. Will reading one make me judge the other differently? I'll keep you posted.

And that, my friends, is what will be filling my head during the month of June! Does anyone else have a reading challenge that they have set for themselves? If so I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

An Update...

So last year, in January, I set my goal to read, review and blog about 50 books over the year. Clearly, from my lack of posts you can see that I failed miserably! Not one, single, tiny post! Shameful! I will have quite easily read the required amount, but did I blog about them for your entertainment... Well, er, no.

However, I do have my reasons... Excuses? No, they're definitely reasons, valid reasons, honest!
2013 was a difficult year for my family. My mom was diagnosed with Myeloma early in the year and was ill for a significant period of time. Being on my own, coping with two children and no support or other adults to turn to, pushed me to my emotional limits. Having someone so important to me diagnosed with an incurable cancer completely turned my world upside down. We are very close and she's a great support to me as a single parent. She too was a single parent to me after my father passed away in 1988. Completely independent and strong she was a terrific role model to me growing up and a good example of feminism. My mom is also the type that never gets ill, never has time off work and to see her so poorly was tough to say the least. Thankfully, her treatment so far has been successful and she is in remission. It is incurable, but for now I'm are grateful for the fact she is well and more or less back to normal. (Her hair is no longer a crazy frizzy lion's mane after the treatment, but trust me, that's no bad thing!)
Additionally, my daughter lost someone close to her on her Dad's side of the family, so needless to say, I am so glad that vile year is now well behind me.

So, my blog became a distant memory and a victim of my neglect while I took stock of my life. My experience with cancer made me re-assess my life and my goals. I enrolled on an access course at the local college and I will be starting a BA in English and Creative Writing in September at Newman University. My one regret in life was never going to university after I left school. I was itching to earn to subsidise my numerous nights out! At the age of 17-18 I had no idea what I wanted to do in life and there was no way I could have made a choice about my whole future at that point. Even now, my path in life remains fluid, and the more I learn academically, the more I learn about myself. I cannot wait to start uni, albeit at the grand old age of 34! I'm pretty sure I could handle all the partying and keep up with the youngsters during 'freshers' week if I felt the need. Thankfully, for my liver's sake, I don't!

My love of literature remains, and is the reason for my chosen course. My taste, however, in literature has changed somewhat from 17 months ago, when my intentions of book blogging began. I'd like to think that they are perhaps a bit more refined without being snobbish! I now analyse books more academically and in more detail than I would before. I know lots more technical terms and literary devices and the classics and Shakespeare, no longer scare the poo poo out of me.

So, you can now consider yourself updated. You can expect to read posts reviewing books and topics relevant to the mature student's life. I will also be posting about my life as a single parent and a mature student, product reviews and my hobby which is comping! Oh and I suppose I also will post/moan/procrastinate/rant/discuss/share/breakdown... (delete as appropriate) about weight loss and my experience with Slimming World, of which today I am well and truly off the wagon! So, with all that proposed content, the name of my blog may have to be reviewed. Answers on a postcard... (or just in the comments box will do).

I can already guess the impression you have of me! Keep following and visiting and I may just surprise you. This post, by the way, was inspired by my 10 year old daughter, who has created her own blog, and is apparently better at it and more dedicated than I!