Kulchuma is a mum of two and second year Social Work student at the University. She returned to learn after working in various support roles within education. Read on to find out about her experience as an adult learner at Bradford.
Why did you decide to return to learn?
Having been employed for many years as a Teaching Assistant then a Cover Supervisor, I started to feel like I was stuck in a rut and needed a change in career due to lack of progression. I wasn’t very academic when I was younger and only had my GCSE qualifications and very poor A-Levels, so my options were limited in the jobs that I could apply for. I had an idea of the jobs that I would like to pursue but did not have the qualifications I needed.
I was encouraged by my husband to return to studying to gain the qualifications I needed and applied to university but was rejected in the first instance due to not having enough UCAS points. Although I was disheartened, I did not lose hope as I was provided with information about how I could complete an Access course and reapply, which I did and I am now in my second year of study at the University of Bradford.
What support have you been given as an adult learner?
The service that I’ve found most useful for me is the Disability Service. When I first started University I took part in the voluntary screening service (when enrolling) to check for any additional learning needs, which flagged up that I may need some additional support and an appointment was made for me by the Disability Service with an educational psychologist. They carried out an assessment and I was later diagnosed with having dyslexia and dyspraxia.
I had gone through school and college without knowing that I needed support for either, which explained why I never felt I was academic. The Disability Service helped me to devise a learning support plan that allowed me to work to my potential and they notified my lecturers of support and adjustments that they might need to make for me. The support available has enabled me to flourish academically and gain more confidence in my abilities.
What’s your favourite thing about campus?
My ultimate favourite part of student life must be working as a student ambassador. As a student ambassador, not only have I been able to gain confidence in public speaking, but I have also been able to develop skills that will no doubt be useful to me as a social worker. I have been able to achieve this by meeting prospective students both virtually and face-to-face and supporting them with their applications, queries about the University and student life on campus, to enable them to make an informed decision about their university choices.
I have also had the honour of being a part of the Social Work Teaching Partnership which has allowed me to represent the student voice for the Social Work course. I take onboard feedback about our experiences and make suggestions to improve learning opportunities for the following years’ modules. Being a member of the Teaching Partnership has enabled me to make connections and build a good relationship with both academics and professionals in the field.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
Being a mum of two very energetic boys, studying and managing a household has been tricky but manageable. I have found the best way to manage my time efficiently and ensure that I still have quality time with my children and extended family is to keep a colour coded timetable, as it allows me to allocate time quickly and efficiently to tasks that need to be done. The timetable also allows me to identify gaps in my time that I can use to stay on top of my work.
During the assessment period when I have numerous deadlines, I initially found that I was not spending enough time with my children and had to find a solution that worked well for us as a family. I found through trial and error that working on my assignments once the children had gone to bed worked well for me. To keep me on task I would set myself a target number of words to reach before switching off the laptop, as I found setting a time was no good as I often spent the time procrastinating.
As I find it difficult to stay on task at home, I would also take myself to the library as that meant I had less distractions. By using these methods, I have been able to apply myself properly to my studies and excel with my learning and my grades.
What’s your advice for adult learners considering applying to Bradford?
If you are an adult learner thinking about applying to the University of Bradford, my advice to you would be to do it sooner rather than later because this is a decision you will not regret. The University is a great place for mature students to flourish and make their dreams come true. The lecturers at the University are so supportive and understanding, the level of support available is exceptional and more importantly, they recognise the potential you do not see in yourself and will push you to keep on achieving.
If you’re still unsure, speak to the student ambassadors for feedback based on their real life experiences, speak to the lecturers or even the Recruitment and Outreach Team who support many adult learners including myself to make the transition into university extremely smooth and easy.