Not Too Old To Be A Student

Frances – Contributer

10th October 2016

Read this inspiring story about Frances who at the age of 31 found herself heading back to school and becoming a full time student.

FrancesI had wanted to be a social worker for many years, working alongside them as a social care worker with adults with mental health difficulties for seven years. However, the reality of living in London and paying my rent for two years whilst I qualified seemed like an impossible task. After being made redundant for the second time from the charity sector, my parents very kindly offered to support me (along with the £8,000 a year grant) so that I could take two years out and do a Masters in Social Work and hopefully never be made redundant again!

So at the age of 31 I found myself as a full time student again. I was worried that I would be older than everyone else on the course, but there was nothing to worry about, there were people of all ages on the course and I actually fell into the younger group.

I was quickly reminded that being a poor student and writing essays was something that I certainly had not missed. But what I hadn’t expected was meeting lots of like minded people, making some great friends and reliving the fun aspects of the student experience (cheap drinks, travel and NUS card). I found that I was a much better student than 10 years previously as I was actually really interested in what i was studying and knew that I would be getting the career I wanted at the end of it.

The majority of the course was work based placements and the aspect I found most difficult was going from being a respected member of a team in my previous jobs, to being ‘just a student’ and feeling a bit patronised at times, but I was quickly able to show my placements that I could be a useful member of staff. In fact my first placement ended up offering me a three month contract of paid work over my summer break.

I have now been qualified for over three years and I can honestly say that it was the best decision I ever made. I feel as if I’ve always a been a social worker and can’t imagine doing anything else. I remember my Dad saying ‘you’ll spend more time at work than with your friends and family, so do something you enjoy’. I love being a social worker and despite being relatively late to the career, I’ve already been promoted to Senior Practitioner, supervise a newly qualified social worker and recently began supervising a student social work on placement in our team.

I would advise anyone wanting to go back to school, to take the plunge. You’re never to old to learn something new or change your career path. It might be the best decision you ever make.

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