Posted on Thursday, 19 July 2018 at 3pm
by Lifelong Learning Centre Staff.
The following is a guest post by Joel Davison, a mature student who graduated from Leeds with a BA in Professional Studies in July 2018.
When I discovered the Lifelong Learning Centre at the University of Leeds I was over the moon to find out that I could go to university without the traditional academic qualifications. Although I had GCSEs I did not have ‘A’ Levels, but instead was accepted on the basis of my work and life experiences. It was daunting leaving an already established career to return to academic work, but with the support of the team at the LLC I was able to quickly get back into an ‘educational’ state of mind. Professional Studies is an extremely broad degree, with a focus on contemporary issues and challenges, whilst also looking at extremely relevant topics that provide an insight into today’s working world. The degree gives the option of selecting a professional pathway – this allowed me to select ‘Family and Childhood Studies’, meaning that a third of my modules were focused on this area (I initially applied to university to work towards an educational or social care role). These modules gave me the information, tools and experience that I needed to gain an insight into the areas I was interested in. During my university career, with the support and guidance of the University Careers Centre, I also volunteered at a children’s contact centre and a primary school.
Throughout my learning I faced several challenges, each of which helped build my confidence and academic abilities. The support provided by my lecturers, support staff at the LLC and my coursemates made me persevere and ultimately finish my degree. University was a stressful experience for me and there were times I doubted my abilities, but everyone was so supportive and helped me recognise my own strengths and continue to move forward.
I am so proud of myself to be graduating and looking back my time at university has flown by! I am also extremely thankful to staff at the LLC for believing in me, which helped me to believe in myself. The feeling of knowing that I’ll shortly be graduating is incredible, and when I look back to how I was as a person before university, university has made me re-imagine who I am. I am also excited to have a graduate job ready to jump straight into in July! In January I applied to the Frontline programme, an intensive social work scheme that consists of a two-year role working as a paid social worker, after which I will receive a full Masters degree. I’ll be working full-time whilst doing the academic work in my own time – it’ll be intense but I’m so lucky to have a place with what The Times newspaper has included in their list of the Top 100 Graduate Employers.