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This is a guest blog written by Nicola Charles, our current BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing student. She shares her experience being a mature student and a mum, and how support from BU is beneficial to help achieving her academic and personal goals.

Helping out as a student ambassador on interview days I often get asked what it’s like being a more mature student with family commitments. So I thought I would share my experience of University as a 40 something year old, single mum, in my second year of a nursing degree. ‘Life-changing’ may seem like an extreme term, but in so many ways it still fails to communicate the passion, enthusiasm and inspiration that I encounter whether I am on placement or attending lectures.

However, whilst this image might sound all peachy, juggling study time, placements and home life does require planning and has been a huge learning curve for me. To be completely honest, despite having family plans and schedules in place, I had set my standards so high, that time still became an issue and as soon as that quite literally hit home, combined with the occasional family drama, my whole life became affected. Sleepless nights worrying about assignment deadlines, stressful daytimes trying to make sure that money wasn’t an issue or that my family had my time and attention (sound familiar?). For a long time I thought, I just need to get this done or I just need to finish placement and things will be okay again, but life just didn’t seem to work out like that.

What I should have done was spoken to my Academic Advisor as soon as I had concerns. The staff here are amazing, but quite frankly, not mind readers. Once I had gathered the courage to ask for help, the support I received back was simply breathtaking. From this I rebalanced my life by re-prioritising my commitments and setting achievable academic and personal goals. It sounds simple but it is amazing how quickly and easily we sometimes lose focus of the bigger picture.

Nursing degrees are not about proving yourself by having the highest grade possible, they are about developing your skills to become lifetime learners. Continually adapting through gaining new insights whether as a result of the latest research or by simply reflecting on who we are and where we are going. So if you find yourself in a similar situation, be honest with yourself, this is a journey to be embraced and enjoyed. It is not designed to break you, support is always there, and you are never too old to ask for help.

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