Produced by Hannah
BA (Hons) Social Work
University is a huge investment in your life, £9000+ a year of fees, potentially moving away, three to four years of studying and giving up things. To some people, especially for me, I just assumed I’d always go to university from a young age. I never really considered the impact it would have on me, physically, mentally and financially until I was in my 20’s and had to decide whether to return to education to further my career and job prospects or to find an alternative route.
As you can see, from this blog, as a BU student, I did indeed decide to return to higher education in the form of traditional university as a mature student. In 2018 I knew I wanted to become a social worker, but the main thing I was battling with, was wondering if I could
- Afford to quit my full-time job for the NHS and enter life as a full-time student and
- Cope with full time studies again as I always learnt best on the job and was becoming anxious about exams and coursework and
- Whether I wanted this pathway enough to put myself in £50,000+ worth of debt for it?
I started to look further into different options at furthering your career without going the traditional university route. Amongst my investigating, I found the NHS beginning to offer more Degree Apprenticeships, where you can work for 3 years full time in a job role and be assigned placements through your paid employment to study. These gained you a full degree in the end, and they were just beginning to open some up for Social Work, alongside Nursing and Occupational Therapist roles.
I also explored the route of Open University, where I could study part-time, modules at my own pace, pay a smaller fraction of the initial fee, as a lot is self-taught, and work more on the side. I ruled this one out early on as I figured I’d need a lot of willpower and self-discipline to be able to self-teach myself online, as I learn best with mentors face to face and other students to empower me.
There are various BTECs and diplomas that certain businesses offer also to help further you. Maybe not so much for health and social care, but for example, my friend completed her Legal Secretary level 2 diploma at a law firm as an intern. Depending on what your future career choice is, these could be worth a look.
I reached out to current social workers, and council departments for advice, alongside charities and asked what sort of skills they were after and where could my career lead to with and without completing a degree. This helped me to make an informed decision on whether university was worth it for me. Did I need this qualification to enter my chosen career path or were there other options?
When deciding if university is right for you, always think about your personal circumstances and whether they fit right for you. The biggest question I had to ask myself, in order to answer ‘Is it right for me?’, was ‘Where do I see myself in 5 years’ time?’.