I had started working straight after I left school and had no real qualifications. But I began to wish I had gone to university when I was 18; I think it really does open doors for you. So when I was able to consider part-time study, I chose Kent simply because it was the nearest university. I started by doing a Certificate in Social Science; it really gave me a taste for studying, and when I was asked if I would like to stay on, I jumped at the chance.
What were your first impressions?
My first thought was that the campus was huge! I didn't think I'd ever learn my way around. But you soon settle in. I was also struck by the number of mature students on campus, which was a relief to me. I had been a bit worried that I'd be surrounded by youngsters and would feel a little alienated.
How have you found the course?
I've really enjoyed it. In fact, it's been fascinating. I've been interested in all the topics we've studied, but particularly enjoyed the Childhood studies and the modules on health and medicine. I was surprised at this, because it wasn't a subject I'd thought about before; but I found the teaching of the history of medicine made it very interesting.
What do you think of the teaching?
The teaching is excellent. I've had help whenever I've needed guidance, and the staff are always available for a chat if you need to talk something over. And when you're introduced to a subject you've never thought about before, the way some lecturers draw you in, it is inspiring.
What about your fellow students?
We all get on really well. This course in particular does seem to attract mature students - although numbers vary from year to year - and we tend to stick together. But this isn't because we're made to feel outsiders - it just happens because we naturally gravitate into groups. And when it comes to seminars and discussions, I really feel that the younger ones value the opinions of us 'oldies' because we have more experience.
What do you think of the facilities?
The Templeman Library is excellent - and even better since they've introduced the core texts section. I do use the Library a lot, and the staff are very helpful.
As I live off-campus I don't use as many of the social facilities as some people, but the various cafes are very good - you can tell by how busy they get! The cafe in the Library is particularly useful.
What do you hope to do next?
I would really love to carry on studying. I've thought about doing a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, or even a PhD - I like the idea of going into research.
What advice would you give someone coming to Kent?
Be prepared for a lot of work; I hadn't realised how much actual writing there would be. In your first year, don't be afraid to use the Student Learning Advisory Service, who can help you with study skills and support you through exams. Preparing and organising your time is the key to success, whether you're full- or part-time; perfecting your time-management skills makes everything else a great deal easier.
"Don't be afraid to use the Student Learning Advisory Service, who can help you with study skills and support you through exams"
~ Karen Steffan