Going back to university after a 9-year break

Rebekah - Midwifery

Nine years after starting my first degree I took the plunge to return to education to train for the career I’d always dreamed of: midwifery. It felt like there was so much at stake this time but it’s a decision I have never looked back from.

Before I started, I’d attended an Open Day, seen the facilities I’d be using, found my subject area in the library and met a few course mates, which made me feel much better about settling into university study. UCLan offered me the right balance of teaching and self-directed study time so I could plan family life around my study days. The biggest draw was the links that the University has to excellent industry placement areas and students’ employability record: I was sold.

I left my job, moved back from a city I’d lived in for eight years and packed my school bag. I didn’t sleep the night before I started as I was so nervous. The thoughts racing through my head ranged from whether I would have the stamina to keep up with the workload, if I didn’t like the course after making so many sacrifices and making friends as a mature student.

Since that nerve-wracking first day I’ve made a wonderful bunch of friends on my course of all ages and backgrounds. BSc (Hons) Midwifery has lots of mature students and in general, there are more and more people returning to education, so there’s not just classes of 18-year olds. We did quite a lot of group work in the beginning, which helped us to get to know one another and quickly make friends. We also took part in an activity day in the first week which also broke the ice. We were all very open to getting to know each other and the support we can give each other when deadlines or university pressures are there. The friends I’ve made will be friends for life. Outside of university, we’ve had many meals out and even managed a little break away (pre-COVID!).

"I’ve made a wonderful bunch of friends on my course of all ages and backgrounds. BSc (Hons) Midwifery has lots of mature students and in general, there are more and more people returning to education."

During my time at UCLan, I’ve been taught by inspiring midwives and researchers. The staff and my course mates have been really supportive, and the WISER Study Skills Support team have helped me relearn the academic skills and referencing that I’d long forgotten. The team came in and ran assignment workshops with our class, as there were many people with a range of previous study experiences. I also took advantage of one of their services where they can provide feedback on assignments. Since then, I’ve also used their helpful online resources on topics like ‘Planning an academic assignment’ and ‘Critical Thinking’. The WISER team have been an invaluable resource to me and have helped me readjust to studying.

One advantage of studying as a mature student is that I am older and wiser than I was the first time. I understand the importance of work life balance and making sure I am organised so that my commitments outside of university don’t suffer. I am more resilient, more focused and more determined to do well. My friends and family can see the difference that returning to education has made to my life and the fire UCLan has lit in me to be the best midwife I can be.

My advice to somebody considering returning to study is do your research and have a compelling reason for why you want to study, as this will see you through any tough days or deadlines. Once you’re sure what you want to study attend open events, ask all the questions you have to arm yourself with all the information that you need to make an informed choice. Try and connect with any current students if you can, like through our ‘Ask A Student’ page, as they can share their experience with you too. I would also say, to return to education you need a pinch of courage, I lost count of the surprised faces when I said I was going back to university, but I just knew it was the right thing for me and my future.

Every day I pinch myself that 10 years after leaving school I’m finally doing something that I love.