Posted on Thursday, 06 October 2016 at 3pm
by Lifelong Learning Centre Staff.
The following is a guest post by Alison Webster-Rudge, a mature postgraduate student who began her career at Leeds with the Lifelong Learning Centre.
I left school with almost no qualifications. I wasn’t incapable, just bored and a bit lazy. There wasn’t any external motivation to succeed, no one seemed to care, so why should I? That was education in the early 1980s.
It wasn’t long after I left school that I wanted to go back, realising the grass was much greener where I had been, not where I was heading. A few months working in a shoe shop on a Youth Training Scheme at £25 per week, with the knowledge that the full-time supervisor and the manager were on £35 and £55 per week respectively, made me think. There was no provision for those over 16 who needed to repeat their ‘O’ Levels, thus no way of moving forward. In my later teens and through my 20s I worked full-time and studied a variety of GCSEs.
I truly developed a sense of direction in my late 20s and studied a number of GCSEs at night school whilst working as a retail manager. My plan to take ‘A’ Levels at night school then go to university was put on hold to have children. I was a stay at home mum but still took as many courses as were offered locally. I found I loved learning. I assumed I would never be able to further my education when fees became payable as I had financial commitments to my family and my home.
In 2010 I was on a course for Teaching Assistants when I had the opportunity to attend taster sessions for courses with the Lifelong Learning Centre. The finances were explained to me and once I realised I didn’t have to pay up front and could apply for funding I was happy to go ahead and apply to for their part-time Foundation Degree in Learning and Teaching. I thoroughly enjoyed the course but after a short period changed direction and began studying full time on the Professional Studies degree instead.
My experience as an undergraduate at Leeds changed my life completely. I discovered abilities I never knew I had. I discovered career areas I never knew existed. I had a great time, made many new friends and developed both academically and personally. The support I have received from the LLC was an essential component to my success in academia. I graduated in June 2016 with a 2:1 and successfully applied to study for an MA in Social Research with the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Leeds.
This coming year will determine which direction I take next. I’m excited about my future and looking forward to working within social research as well as exploring the possibility of working towards a PhD.
I never dreamed I’d be saying that, not in a million years! I’ll be 50 on my next birthday and I’ve probably got another 20 years until I can retire, so it’s essential I equip myself with the skills to do something I love.