Where are they now?

Helen is 51 years old and decided to get involved with Student Life because she thought it might help other people overcome potential concerns about returning to education, as a ‘mature’ student.

When I was young I wanted to teach, but there was a problem: I wasn’t particularly academic and some of my schooling was less than inspiring. I made it through my first year of ‘A’ levels before leaving with 6 ‘O’ levels (as they were then), to start work in a bank. ‘Life’ (marriage, salary, mortgage) then removed all thoughts of pursuing a career in teaching. 

Fast forward to the year 2010. It took two lots of voluntary redundancy and many heart to hearts with my husband, before we both agreed that now was the time to retrain. I did not underestimate the financial and emotional support I was about to need. 

So, first things first: I completed an Access Course (to get my qualifications to ‘A’ level standard so that I could get into university) and a Science GCSE (can’t teach without it!). 

Having always been interested in English, I decided to pursue that subject at university. Choosing the University of Suffolk was quite easy: it was small, and therefore not so daunting in comparison to many; the English course incorporated elements of both Language and Literature; and the location is very close to where I live. 

I started my 3-year degree course in 2012 and was quite nervous in case I was the only older person; but I found that more than half of the students in my cohort were ‘mature’. 

The lecturers were lovely!  I could not fault how supportive and caring everyone was. I found my opinions challenged and learned to be far more questioning of everything around me. I banished all thoughts of thinking I was not particularly academic; achieving 2:1’s and Firsts for some of my initial essays. The third-year dissertation was very hard work and I was absolutely over the moon to achieve an overall First for my degree.

I achieved ‘outstanding’ for my teacher training year and am now working at a primary school in Ipswich. I am grateful for the all-round support to achieve something I once held as a dream.