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I’ve been wanting to make a change for years… this was my tipping point

We have seen in week one that we often go through stages that lead to us making a change. We often know when we are at the tipping point. Then what?
It’s funny because for years I always thought that university wasn’t for me. It was something I never felt was achievable at school, so it wasn’t until a moment at work in my mid-forties when It just hit me really, a got a real palpable sense of both academic and professional under-achievement… so I began looking at whether a route to university was a viable option, or even possible! I always felt I had under achieved at school, I kind of fell off the academic cliff and never thought I had it in me to correct it until my job situation hit home.
It was then that I realised that I had to do something different, so I decided to have a complete change of direction. One that would take my life down a completely new, challenging but exciting route. Since leaving school I’d always been employed but I had a series of manual labour jobs for minimum wage, which all have their place, but I realised I wasn’t for me anymore and I wasn’t really going anywhere. I started thinking that not only that I could do better, but I must do better. When my last job was pretty much more of the same, I had a re-think about where I was going in life and what I really wanted to do.
I started by thinking about my two main areas of interest over the years, History and Politics, and I realised that I could combine the two and give education one last shot. I never thought university was within my reach before, you know, I always thought it was for ‘other people’, so that was the first barrier really, to have the confidence that it was an achievable goal. Obviously, my age was a factor. Could I still achieve something? Right the academic wrongs of my school years as it were. Did I at least have some brains left?!
At the age of 44, and after a lengthy period out of the classroom I had very little confidence in my academic ability and didn’t really know how, where or even if I could fit in. Another barrier was how much the classroom setting and learning environment had changed. I mean, the year I left school was the year the internet was invented so I was apprehensive as I knew I would have the challenge of the huge changes in learning techniques and advancements in IT which was a real concern for me. Being a mature student with domestic commitments can limit your options. Issues such as finance, family, geography, accessibility of universities and previous grades were all key factors.
For these reasons I had originally only applied to the university in my home city, but my grades on the Access to HE course opened up other options which is why I chose York. My main reason for going to university was to get a degree to help open doors to a better career. I’m hoping to take advantage of the many opportunities university can offer, to explore the options and different paths through the many initiatives, schemes and career advice that university provides.

Let me introduce to you Vincent (Vinny) Shepherd. Vinny is a mature student here at the University of York and he talks here about the point in his life where he recognised that he had been underachieving both professionally, and academically.

At that point, (the tipping point), Vinny knew he had to do something. He turned contemplation into action. He has now changed the course of his future educational and employment journey.

Do you think Vinny’s story and epiphany is typical of many mature learners?

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Returning to Education as a Mature Student

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