Written by Amber Williams
MSc Forensic Anthropology
Taking the decision to become a student after several years out of education was not an easy one. There was so much to take into account, and so much that I was nervous about. My biggest worry was whether I’d be able to cope with full time study after so long. Would I be able to keep up with the work? I spent three years working full time, would I enjoy being a student?
Starting my first year was one of the most exciting and scary things I have ever done. And I am so glad I did. The first few assignments I was given, were enough to get me thinking and to ease me back into the process of researching and essay writing. This doesn’t stop you getting frustrated at yourself for not being able to jump straight back in though! The lecturers, however, know that their students have a wide range of backgrounds and so essentially, first year provides the opportunity for all students to be brought up to the same level. I had two modules that were entirely devoted to improving academic writing skills, and I found these incredibly helpful.
I found lots of experience and skills that I had gained in full time employment were actually really beneficial to academic life; things such as time management, organisation and communication skills. I actually felt much better prepared for life in academia after having taken time out. I felt that I now had the skills and maturity to cope better with life as a student. Additionally, the time I spent as an undergraduate student provided me with countless opportunities to network and meet lots of like-minded people in the same field.
It was a difficult process and one that was very frustrating to begin with, however, there was plenty of support from the university. My course provided drop-in sessions specifically aimed at certain assignments, as well as PAL sessions, where a 2nd year student is available to provide guidance and help. In addition to this, there are academic workshops provided that are aimed more generally at improving academic skills.
Despite my misgivings, the process of returning to academics was one that was entirely worth it. I have not only gained an undergraduate degree, but am now studying a postgraduate degree. I have hugely increased my employability both through academic skills and personal skills. Going back to academics was the best decision I have ever made, and I urge anyone who is thinking about it not to just write it off!