Posts tagged: mature student

Year one (almost) completed! #StudentDiaries #SalfordSmart

24 May 2017

Anne share the ups and downs of her first year at Uni

So as I sit here this morning, working on one of my final first year assignments I cannot believe how quickly this year has passed. From the giddy excitement of last September where I skipped into uni with my new backpack and pencils, keen to make new friends to cold and wet December feeling frazzled and overwhelmed and then into Spring feeling inspired and reinvigorated following an amazing first placement.

I’ve been frustrated when the shop increased the price of a Freddo from 25p to 30p (I remember when they were 10p!)

I feel like I have gone through every gamut of emotion in the last few months. I’ve sometimes sat in lectures feeling clueless and frustrated but that’s made me go home to learn and understand what I’ve heard and then other times I’ve been in lectures that have been so powerful they’ve brought me to tears with a message that had resonated so strongly with me, it made it difficult to control my emotions.

I have at times found the uni life frustrating, I’ve been frustrated that we have to pay for parking (I’m sure I’m not alone here!), I’ve been frustrated when the shop increased the price of a Freddo from 25p to 30p (I remember when they were 10p!) and there have been other situations that have made me question myself as to why I made the decision to come to uni. A major wobble in the middle of the first semester caused me to speak to the student advocate who assured me my feelings of doubt were normal “first year issues” but it shook me nonetheless.  It was the first practise placement that cemented my decision to retrain as an occupational therapist, I’m still thinking about this placement 3 months after it finished as it had such an impact on me.

Frustrations aside I have had some great times in my first year, the practical sessions are definitely my favourite part of it, I’m a hands-on person so I get more out of these sessions and I’m really pleased to have gained new skills. I’ve also got to know some of the people on my course pretty well and have had a real laugh with them, which always helps.

I’m now looking forward to a break over the Summer to recharge my batteries as I already know that the second year is a gear up. I’m nervous about this as the first year hasn’t been a walk in the park so I know that I will need up my game even more if I’m going to do well.

What would I tell a newbie first year student?

That’s a difficult question….. if I was talking to an 18-year-old straight out of college who had no major responsibilities I’d say get yourself involved in everything you can, clubs, societies and social life – really go for it and enjoy the experience before it gets really hard but do turn up to lectures!!!

If I was talking to a mature student, who’s possibly already spent a significant chunk of their life working, they may have a mortgage and kids to juggle I’d say try to enjoy your experience but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t quite live up to the giddy heights you built it up to be. It might be a steep learning curve and you may feel your confidence take a beating in the first couple of months but hang on in there, take any bit of feedback and guidance offered to you, if you don’t understand something ask and make use of the resources the uni has to offer. Oh, and do visit the Student Union at least once in your first year, they make a mean pizza, the beer is cheap and you need abit of balance in your life!

Time is flying by and I have learned some study key lessons!! #studentdiaries

23 March 2017

Anne shares her key study lessons and her experience of going out on placement.

I cannot believe that it is nearly the end of March and my time as a first year undergraduate student is coming to an end. The time from January onwards has gone so fast that I’m not sure where to start…

I have carefully read the feedback given to me so that I can learn from it

I received my assignment and exam results which was quite a stressful time. It was quite disheartening when I didn’t get the marks I wanted on certain submissions, especially when I felt that I had worked so hard on them. This of course is just how it goes and I have carefully read the feedback given to me so that I can learn from it and ensure that I don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

The key lessons I have learned are to make sure you proof read your work, ask someone else to read it to make sure that your work is making sense and then proof read it again.  I lost marks by making careless mistakes which was so frustrating.

My other lesson is to not put so much pressure on myself, no one comes to uni as an A grade student (unless you’re a genius!) and its all about the learning curve. Hopefully I can look back on my first and second years’ at the end of my degree and see improvement as I went through my university journey.

Placement month

February was placement month and what an amazing experience it was. Obviously for reasons of patient confidentiality I cannot give specifics of the placement, all I can say is that I was placed in an acute mental health ward in a general hospital. It’s no secret that I was not initially looking forward to it as I felt under prepared and yes I’ll admit it, I was pretty scared of what I was going to encounter but I actually had the most fantastic time.

It was stressful, sometimes upsetting and a bit scary but there were also times that were truly magical, funny and awe inspiring. I was given some brilliant opportunities by my educator to put all of the theory that I’d learned in the previous 12 weeks into practise and it really compounded my original decision to uproot my life and leave my successful job to become an Occupational Therapist. I came away from the placement feeling inspired and motivated and grateful for such an experience.

I’ll be honest, its been a bit of a bind acclimatising myself back into university since placement, I felt so useful in the team I worked in and I genuinely felt like I made a difference to some of my patients daily life in the time I spent with them so getting used to sitting in lectures again has taken some getting used to. Trying to stay focused is really difficult so I keep reminding myself why I’m here.

Its not long now until the Easter break so a quick rest is in order. After that its only 6 short weeks to the end of the year. If the rest of the course passes as quickly as this year, I’ll be qualified and out there working in no time!!!

Referencing Lessons #studentdiaries

29 November 2016

This week friends I have learned a painful but valuable lesson

When working on an essay or assignment and you find a piece of research, a useful book or anything that you might want to talk about in your assignment, for the love of all that is great and good write down the source and reference details as soon as you find it.

I’ve been going through my (almost) completed assignment putting the references in order but I can’t actually find the citations for my references, or in fact any proof that they exist. To say that my head is exploding right now is an understatement.  I spoke to a couple of friends about my plight at uni and they suggested that I use Ref Me which I understand is a handy little app that keeps all of your references together and then magically produces a full list of references that you can add into your work – what kind of magic is this?  And how am I only just finding out about it?

Heed my advice, don’t be a dope like me

I need to have a tinker with this and see how it works for me but the critical thing is to heed my advice, don’t be a dope like me and waste inordinate amounts of time when it would have been so much simpler to just write them down when doing your assignment planning.

The 7.45 from Middleton to Salford #studentdiaries

14 November 2016

Janine and Anne looking very cheerful at 7.45am!

Car sharing is a great opportunity to share experiences

Every Monday morning at 7.45am my friend Janine picks me up and we car share into uni. This is an event that I look forward to every week, not only because my friend Janine is hilariously funny and makes the commute bearable but it is also a good opportunity for us to share our experiences of uni life. She is studying Podiatry and one thing we have agreed on is that her course is very biologically based whereas my course is more theory based.

She has already done an OSCE test to allow her to start clinical placements and is now in a position to work (with supervision) on the feet of Mancunians, I’ve just completed a manual handling course ready for my clinical placement in February. I seem to spend a lot of my time reading books and journals to put the models of OT into context, whereas Janine is reading biology and anatomy books to learn the various parts of the body.

You could say that our courses couldn’t really be further removed however there are some key similarities that we share such as working to the HCPC code of ethics and ensuring that we consider the 6 C’s* with regards to our future patients.  Working with patients is already something that we are considering and talking about, making a difference in someone’s life and helping them is part of the reason why we are here.

Building relationships is great preparation for professional practice

Its great knowing someone from another health pathway and having an understanding of what they are going through, sometime in the future we could find ourselves as part of the same multi-disciplinary team and have to work together professionally.  Its got me thinking that we don’t work in isolation, with the NHS being the size it is its inevitable that students from other cohorts may possibly get a job in the same place as me when I finally graduate so building relationships is something that I’m really trying to embrace – I’ve already invited myself on the Podiatry Christmas do and I know a few of the student nurses so I may get myself on theirs too, all in the name of future relationship building obviously!!

* care, compassion, competence, communication, courage, committment

Learning to be an expert juggler! #studentdiaries

7 November 2016

Lightening fast pace

Before you ask, no I’m not about to leave uni and start at the circus.  I’m talking about becoming a metaphorical expert juggler because that is in essence what I am trying to do at the moment.

On my course we are studying 3 modules concurrently, this equates to 3 different assignments and exams for these modules, all due in December.  I thought to myself the other day that its so far removed from college when whilst I was still doing 3 different modules, the time spent on each module was so much longer and the content really stretched out.  So for example, you might actually spend 6 weeks covering the same topic – what a luxury because now I come in on Monday and learn one topic and by the following Monday, we’re on to the next completely different topic.  The pace is lightening fast and I feel like I’m constantly juggling all of the topics!

Read, read and re-read!

This means that the onus is on me to make sure I read, read and re-read all of the content that has been delivered to ensure that I understand it.  It’s hard, it’s mentally taxing and I sometimes wonder how I’m going to keep all of this newly learnt information in my cranium (someone’s been learning biology, can you tell??).  I’m still finding my way with navigating through all of this information and after talking with my peers I’m not alone in my thinking.  I did get the opportunity to speak to a 2nd year OT student who was great and reassured me that all of this theory really comes to life when I go on placement in February and from then on it will all make sense – I can only hope she’s right!

For now, I’m going to continue with my reading.  I’m going to keep on top of the learning material that my tutors make available and whilst I don’t pretend to understand it, I’m trying to make sense of it.

3rd week wobbles! #studentdiaries

11 October 2016

So last week I doubted myself as to why I was here.

Fuelled by a couple of nights of poor sleep due to “Freshers Flu” (a real ailment I’m told even though I didn’t actually participate in Fresher week), I had a ropey lesson where I felt I didn’t have the knowledge or skillset required to do my degree and I started to stress that maybe I wasn’t cut out to be an Occupational Therapist.

When I looked around at my classmates, I found that some already have a wealth of experience in Health Care, they already know a lot of terminology and some of them are already working in an Occupational Therapy setting and here’s me straight from an Access course with my only experience of Health Care being a short spell in hospital to deliver my children and when I broke my wrist at 7 and half years old.

Getting reassurance from my tutor

I went to speak to my year tutor at the end of a lecture to share my concerns, I asked if at the very least I should go and find some volunteer work to broaden my knowledge.  Thankfully she is very easy to talk to and she eased my concerns by reassuring me that it’s my transferable skills that earned my place at Salford and crucially it’s also completely normal at this stage for people to have a little wobble – it is after all a huge, life changing thing that I’m doing.  I went home that day with a positive mind and renewed confidence that I am of course in the right place.

My message is don’t be afraid to speak to your tutors if something doesn’t feel right, you’re not on your own and they will boost you back up.

#toptip speak to your tutors, they are here to help!


Who am I?

16 September 2016

anneIntroduction to our first student blogger!

My name is Anne and I’m a 38 year old wife and mother and a full-time mature student about to embark on a degree in Occupational Therapy.

“I felt like I was being pulled in a million different directions but with no clear direction of my own.”

I actually questioned who I was 2 years ago now, when I was sat at my desk at work whilst eating a soggy sandwich over my computer with barely even enough time to go to the loo.  I felt like I was being pulled in a million different directions but with no clear direction of my own.  It was this question that made me change my life, leave my job and become a full-time student.

“Having not studied for nearly 20 years I was worried that I might not cut it at college, I felt vulnerable and out of the loop. “

The first stop for me was completing an access course.  Having not studied for nearly 20 years I was worried that I might not cut it at college, I felt vulnerable and out of the loop.  I felt like I was institutionalised from being in a job for so long but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  College was fantastic and I loved every second of it!  I learned a lot, challenged myself and made some fantastic friends.

“College was the perfect preparation for uni because it taught me skills such as how to manage my time, how to research correctly, referencing skills and working with others.”

I approached college as my full time job, it certainly wasn’t a doss to me.  I was only in 2 days a week but on the days that I wasn’t in I worked at home.  I studied, I read and I made sure that the work I produced was the best it could be and without blowing my own horn I was thrilled when I gained my results because I had smashed it.  College was the perfect preparation for uni because it taught me skills such as how to manage my time, how to research correctly, referencing skills and working with others.

“Age isn’t a barrier to me, I’m learning all the time and processing new things and while I’m learning I feel young.”

I should probably say that to be honest I really hate the term mature-student, it really gets on my nerves and is not a label I like.  Age isn’t a barrier to me, I’m learning all the time and processing new things and while I’m learning I feel young.  But nonetheless I suppose that’s what I am, some of the people on my course were probably born the same year that I started working, I could even be the same age as some of my classmates mums however I really feel that I’m on a level-playing field because I’m at the same stage as all of my peers – we’re all at the start of a journey.

“I feel excited about starting the course but there are a couple of things I’m worried about”

With just over a week to go before we start the course, my feelings right now are of pure excitement with a suggestion of nerves.  I’ve already met some of my cohort at the DBS check so it was really nice to see some friendly faces again and honestly I just want to get stuck in.  I feel excited about starting the course but there are a couple of things I’m worried about such as finding the correct rooms and making sure I can get to them on time.  I do not want to be turning up to lectures late so that’s where my time management skills come into play in the mornings, making sure I get 2 children up, ready and out of the door in time!

“I know that this will not be all plain sailing”

I feel positive and have belief that I can do this.  I’m also incredibly lucky that I have a brilliant support network of family and friends who are all rooting for me.  I know that this will not be all plain sailing, there will be bumps along the road, I’ve got to juggle childcare, adapt to new routines and at times I’ll struggle but I’m looking forward to the challenge.  I’m hoping to support my peers and in return learn from them and really make the most of the tools that are around me.

One thing I know will happen to me is that at some point I will get mistaken for a tutor, it happened regularly at college where 16 year kids would say “Miss – are you a tutor?” which my mates ribbed me for endlessly, but what can I say I must have an authoritative tutor vibe going on!!