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So many times I’ve heard. So what do you want a degree for? Why bother? It doesn’t give you money! You don’t need a degree! Or been insulted with a “So what!” If I’ve explained to somebody that I can’t spend time with them at the weekend because I’ve got an assignment to do. The lack of understanding has been difficult, there have been times when I’ve had to just knuckle down and move on past the snide remarks of “You’re boring!”

So why do any of us want a degree?

  1. The challenge. It’s an endurance test of the brain and to see how far you can take it.
  2. It’s a life experience. Just the same as getting married, having a child etc…
  3. To enhance our CV. Ok so we don’t need a degree if we have a wealth of experience but both combined is a pretty impressive combination.
  4. The achievement.  There is no better feeling than once completed.

And why do we bother?

  1. Because we’re positive people. We’re not waiting for things to happen to us.  We’re trying to make things happen.
  2. We realise that learning something new is never wasted
  3. We enjoy it
  4. It’s a boost to our self-esteem.  We’re doing something positive for ourselves.

And does it lead to more money?

Not necessarily. And it’s clear to me that there are many adults who have studied towards a degree who haven’t done it just for trying to get more money but they’ve done it for themselves, for their worth and their own challenge. But when the time is right it’s our right as a mature student to argue our case for showing.

  • Organisation
  • Commitment
  • Rising to a challenge
  • And never giving up

We also develop

  • Pretty good research skills
  • Self-learning and independent skills
  • Analytical skills and a good grasp of writing essays and reports

Studying a degree as an adult takes you on a lengthy journey and when completed you look at the person you was at the beginning and the person you have become by the end. I don’t know many people who have been on that journey who have come out the other side the same as they started. It’s a huge growth and I can see why people go on to do three or four degrees. I certainly feel that after such a long time studying that I do have a void in my life. I’m questioning just what it is I’m striving for now? What can I achieve and what is my next challenge? Of course at present my barrier for further study is purely I need any money from now on to go towards my children’s education. Particularly after speaking to a young man today who told me that after two years studying he has had to stop his degree course for full-time work. He simply can-not afford to carry on. I fear that this will get worse for our young people. Therefore more and more people who want to learn will have to go down the route of distance learning.

And that’s the good thing with distance learning such as The Open University. Education is more widely available in a sense than it has been before. Indeed it isn’t the easy route.

During the graduation ceremony the speaker asked how many people had worked while studying. I would say that 90% put their hands up. It was humbling to be sat amongst so many people who had been doing similar to me. Lots of friendly and positive people. Before the experience of graduating I couldn’t imagine anybody else in my shoes. But the day showed me that there were many in my shoes and because of that I found I quickly developed a brief bond with those I was sat next to. You could tell that I had completed an Honours Degree in English Literature. I was sat in my row, gazing up at the beautiful patterned ceiling on Ely’s Cathedral amongst hundreds of people wearing their gowns, just thinking “Wow, I feel like I’m at Hogwarts!”

The Day was a day that I’ll never forget. I’d planned with careful precision what I was going to wear. I opted for pale blue suits for my son’s, a spotty dress for my daughter and a classy Navy blue dress for myself all from Next. My dress was £50 which I thought was a bargain and it will be used again for a christening that I’m due to attend. My shoes were comfortable and an extreme bargain from Matalan at £15. I have wide feet so for me comfy shoes can often be difficult to find.

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We used our railcard and opted to travel to Cambridgeshire via train. Purely because I definitely wanted to enjoy a few glasses of Champagne. Sat in the sunshine in a Champagne tent and overlooking the Cathedral with my family. I felt the pride wash through me, we’d made it this far. My children thoroughly enjoyed the day and it’s a memory that we can share.   I feel like I’ve given them something back for the times that we’ve had to compromise so that I can meet an assignment deadline.

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Tonight I asked my children:

“So how did going to my graduation inspire you?”

And their summarised answer:

“No matter what barriers you face in life you do not let your barriers stop you from achieving something. Just keep going until you eventually get there. The day was the day that you, mum, said – I WON!”

I WON!!!!

The graduation was the trophy. I’ve taught my children a valuable lesson.   I hope that each of them take this lesson on with them in their lives.

We witnessed so many people with obstacles and disabilities. We watched a blind man gain his degree and saw people going higher as they collected awards for Phd’s. We witnessed people of many ages showing that life is to be lived and not given up on. I thought about my own invisible disability which does lay dormant at the moment but has flared on many occasions. As I walked down the path in line with the other graduates, having my gown adjusted, I was holding back tears as I told myself to enjoy every single footstep as it would soon be over and instead of feeling scared to put one foot on the step to go on the stage. To just smile and enjoy that moment. I did. I enjoyed every moment and look forward to the day I watch my children do exactly the same.

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