I am now in my final year, however, I have tried to fit in an awful lot whilst here! Time has flown and apart from being proud I have made it this far, I am also proud of the extra achievements I have made whilst here.
A general week for me is 2/3 days in university. I try to use this time effectively so even if I have only one lecture that day I still come onto campus for the full day. Treating it like a work day, I can get on top of seminar work and meet up with friends. I generally prefer to study in university and will usually use the Morrell Library or Derwent computer room as it’s nice and quiet.
Seminars were something I found quite daunting in the first year. It’s a time to sit together in a group and discuss amongst yourselves the work you have been covering that week, usually with a little prompting from your seminar tutor.
At first, everyone is a bit shy and nobody really says much. But as time goes on and you feel a bit more confident that you know what you’re talking about, you soon start debating and discussing with more ease.
I am studying a Social Policy degree and my first year had modules covering: Social Policy, Sociology, Politics and Economics. I found the lectures really interesting as the teaching staff are so passionate about their subjects and this made it enjoyable to learn.
Year two gets even more interesting. The modules are more advanced and contain content that is, at times, a little more difficult to grasp. But still, it is very enjoyable and interesting, and by this point, the seminars don’t seem daunting at all.
Now, in my final year, there is less contact time in university but the content of the modules I chose are so thorough, I am loving it!
My modules are put into just one term so I have just finished Youth Justice and also Vulnerability, Deviance and Social Control. I’m so pleased I chose them as they are two areas I have always been interested in (Youth Justice more so as I used to work within it).
My Spring term has just started and I have another two modules; Social Policy, Crime and Criminal Justice (SPCCJ) and Illicit Drug Use. I am yet to start Illicit Drug Use at it begins in week two but am looking forward to it. SPCCJ started this week and the whole module enables us to learn with students in a prison and learn about the main topics in Social Policy, such as housing and education to name a few. I have enjoyed my first session and feel lucky to be able to study alongside students from different backgrounds within a prison setting.
I do study at home, but as a mature student and having to work around my degree and look after my son, house and dog, sometimes finding the time can be a struggle.
Over the past 3 years, I have found that making myself a timetable has really helped me stay focused and organised. I literally write out a Monday to Sunday timetable for each term and factor in university, my job, and family commitments. I make sure I leave time to relax too, plus spend quality time with my son and meet friends once or twice a month to really chill out. It means my calendar is pretty jam-packed, but I like to think the few months off through summer make up for the hard work in term time.
Since my time here, I have joined two committees/societies. One is a sexual health organisation and the other is passionate about raising awareness around mental health. I have enjoyed being part of a team and the work involved in both.
If there is something you really want to be a part of whilst at university, just go and apply to join. It doesn’t take up much extra time plus it looks great on your CV, and you will meet other people just like you and make a wider network of friends.
I also gained a York Award certificate. You can apply to join and choose an area you are willing to volunteer in for a project. Mine was working with looked-after children to create a website for them. We got great training and was a fantastic experience.
I have made use of the career service here too. I am always popping in for advice and for ideas for when I graduate. If I’ve ever had financial worries, the Student Hub has been great. As have the Students’ Union (YUSU), I cannot praise them enough.
Being a mature student can be extremely daunting, you wonder if you have the brains to cope, the energy to see it through and the bravery to immerse yourself into something new. My advice is, do it! It has proven to be one of my greatest and proudest experiences to date.