Returning to study after a life-changing event

Martina - Social Sciences

After a major life-changing event, I decided to re-evaluate things in my life and do something solely for myself.  My husband had returned to study as a mature student and I was inspired by how much he’d got out of doing his studies, so I decided to take the plunge and become a student too!

Once I had made the decision to return to study, I browsed UCLan’s website to get an idea of the courses on offer. I’ve always been an avid reader and loved proofreading, so the English Language and Linguistics Foundation Year seemed like the ideal course for me. I thought learning the ‘whys’ and 'wherefores’ as to how grammar is used, plus the history of how the English language came into being sounded fascinating and perhaps I could make my love of reading into a career.

The foundation year has given me an excellent understanding of how to ‘be’ a student. I hadn’t done any formal education (other than work-based training courses) since leaving high school, so I was completely new to research, referencing, critical thinking, analysis and academic essay writing. The four core Foundation modules included:

Developing Academic Knowledge: amongst other things, we learned the differences between quantitative and qualitative analysis, and we discussed how we are influenced by filter bubbles, echo chambers and moral panics.

Essential Study Skills: we learned about the academic style of writing, research referencing, correlation versus causation, how to write and structure an essay. We also learned how to conduct literature reviews and identified the many databases and libraries which are available to help with our research.

Learning by Experience: this was a group work project which tested our team working and research/presentation skills. We had to research and design an academic poster, and complete a reflection diary based on our experience.

Digital Skills: this module introduced us to different ways of presenting our research in an interactive manner using blogs, vlogs, videos, Wakelets, Sway etc, rather than submitting a standard Word essay.

"Returning to study was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be, although I did have many wobbles along the way. I actively participated in the lectures and seminars and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions or seek clarity if I didn’t understand something. I have surprised myself with how well I have adapted, and I feel like a fully-fledged student now!"

My proudest moment in my foundation year had to be the ‘commendation’ on my first presentation due to the way I had used in-text citations and references. I am also so proud of each piece of work I have submitted so far; I’ve listened and taken on board my lecturer’s feedback and each successive piece of work has improved because of that.

I will soon be going on to study Education and Sociology and I feel so much more confident going into it now that I have successfully produced several academic essays, an academic poster, two group presentations and much more!