It’s assignment week on my Open University course. This particular piece of work is not one I’ve been looking forward to but it needs to be done.
It made me think about my degree journey over the last 27 years. Yup you read that right….
I left school at 16 preferring to work and earn money rather than study. I also messed up my exams and was told that I couldn’t stay on at 6th form so I made some half-hearted attempts at re-sits before giving up as I enjoyed having the money.
When I was 23ish I decided to try for university as a mature student as I could skip any more re-sits and doing further A-levels first. I succeeded in getting a place but as I had a 2 year old just diagnosed with autism son I worried about being able to keep up and do the year out in work experience so withdrew my place.
Two years later I heard about a scheme on the radio advertising the local university course that would start you on the path to a degree for free if you were a carer. This time I started what was the first step of a part time degree. I completed one year before my increasing confidence in myself gained me a part time job. However with my autistic son, work and study I couldn’t cope and something had to give. For mine and my sons financial security money won out again and I chose work over study.
I forget when the third attempt was now but I think it was the mid 2000’s when I applied to start with Open University. Guess what? I wasn’t in the right mind for it so didn’t get beyond the first module.
We then cut to 2011. One year after my breakdown and I wanted something to help re-build my confidence so decided to have yet another go at a part time degree. I did 4 years getting to the Diploma level before I had to take a break. I’ve spoken at length over the years I’ve had this blog about my mental health – depression and anxiety. I knew I was struggling at the time with debt and work. So I claimed the diploma and stopped. Over the summer just gone many of my OU friends graduated and it got me thinking about my journey, why I studied and what I wanted to achieve from it.
I have no real career aspirations attached to studying. Its an English degree so I could do anything. I did it for confidence and to prove I could. I’m not the greatest student. I struggle with staying on target, not getting distracted and until this module stressing over every little thing.
I decided I wanted to finish it, finally after all this time have that piece of paper so here we are on the degree trail again. I have my final 2 years to do plus a further third year to do a short module as I couldn’t count one of the previous ones. I used to get hung up on grades comparing myself to people. I know that’s silly now. As I say I’m not a natural student even though I love learning. So I have no classification targets in mind. It would be great to get a higher grade but if I finish with a 2.2/3rd then I still achieved something my 16 year old self could never imagine having.
And making that decision seems to have taken the worry away. I do the best I can, the marks are irrelevant because in 2020 I will have what I want. I’m looking forward to that day.