Every mature student who considers restarting their studies at university knows that it can be a nerve wracking prospect. Gone are the days when we used to submit applications on paper. Technology has replaced the need for long queues and endless procedures. When I decided to train as a nurse, I was not exempted from this confusion. By the time I made up my mind, it was late in the year. This meant that I had to use the university clearing process. I was interviewed by the university’s clearing department about my experience of the process. It was very straight forward and not as scary as I had made it up to be in my head. I hope you enjoy reading the article. Cheers guys!
Which secondary school did you attend?
I attended a secondary school in Nigeria about 20 years ago now. It had been a long time since I had undertaken any health-related subjects like biology. This created a lot of anxiety for me when I decided to change my career and undertake the nurse training program at Northampton University.
What course are you studying?
Learning disability nursing
Why did you choose the course?
I decided to undertake the learning disability nursing course following the loss of my son several months earlier. He was born with a life threatening condition known as Propionic-acidaemia. In a nutshell it compromised his body’s ability to bring down his proteins leading to a build-up of toxins in his blood known as ammonia. In the end he developed severe learning disabilities and autism in addition to a host of other complications. My life revolved around his care. I managed his nutrition and medication, maintained stock control for his, equipment, supplies, feeds and drugs.
Following his demise, I realised that I had unintentionally acquired lots of skills. Although they were no longer required they were still potentially relevant to others. I found myself supporting other parents like me who had children with learning disabilities. I knew that I could carry on making a difference in their lives. I could not ignore the huge gap that losing my son had created in my life. At a point I became very apprehensive because I had skills that were on the verge of being lost following his death. I had painstakingly acquired them through my journey with my son and becoming deskilled felt like losing the last link to him.
Prior to birthing my son and being thrust into the world of caring, I had trained as an economist at university. With several years of experience within the financial services sector, leading and managing teams under my belt, I decided to return to work. No sooner had I returned than I discovered that I had assumed the shape of the proverbial square peg within the round hole that was my old career. I just could not fit in anymore. My life experiences have made me a different person. I wanted more. With the weight of grief and the zeal to help parents combined, I envisioned a new dream. I had lots of lived experience but lacked the professional skills to underpin my practice. As much as I wanted to help I did not want to endanger both people with learning disabilities and their families. This led me to embark on the pursuit of a new career specifically in learning disability nursing.
Why did you choose clearing?
By the time I decided to join the course, it is a bit late in the year. I did not know if I would meet the University criteria for nursing. However I had my First degree in Economics, my GCSEs and a few certifications. I rang the University and told them about my circumstance. The person I spoke to was very empathetic and helpful. In the end, I took their advice to apply directly through the clearing route on UCAS.
What was it like?
The clearing process was very straightforward. I admit there were many pages to fill out but nothing unusual for an application. I filled out the forms online and uploaded all the relevant documents. After a few weeks I was contacted and invited for an interview before which I got offered a place on the course.
What is the course like?
I course is absolutely amazing. The Learning disability nursing cohort is a small group. This creates a personalised experience for me as a student during lectures. Most of the lecturers know us and this helps us build a rapport that makes the course more interesting.
What you enjoyed the most?
I have enjoyed the ease of forming relationships. It’s really easy to get along with other students in the different branches of nursing. The lectures are delivered through interactive seminars. Our lecturers encourage student input during sessions through discussions.
I have also enjoyed using the resources made available to us by the University. I have gained lots of confidence by accessing the different types of support available within the University for Example the Learning development team, Personal academic tutor, Student support and much more.
What would you say to someone who might not get the A-level grades they’d hoped for, but still want to go to uni?
I will say don’t give up until you ring the university. It’s worth discussing the different options with the admissions team. In my personal experience I found them to be very approachable and easy to talk to. Although the process of filling out forms might feel a bit daunting, the fact that help is just a phone call away makes a big difference.
Here’s the article on the university website. It’s an abridged version. If you know the press like I do, they only use the best bits out of a long interview. Please click on the link to see it yourself.
Thanks for reading.
Written by Lauretta Ofulue
Photo credit; Pixabay