Sophie: mature Criminology student on her time in the Foundation Centre

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Sophie. I am from Sacriston, Durham. I’ve just turned 31 in January and I enjoy films and binge watching boxsets. I’m currently catching up with Breaking Bad. I also love food! At the moment I am a first year Criminology student having completed the foundation year in 2016.

Why have you decided to come to Durham?

After redundancy 5 years ago I struggled to find a job or career I felt I could progress in or something I felt was suitable for my skill set. Without a degree, I felt my CV was lacking something a lot of younger people now routinely have. I was getting left behind at the age of 29! If I felt out of the running now it was only going to get increasingly harder as the years went by. For me living so close to Durham Uni, I knew of its prestige and the appeal the name has on prospective employers so hopefully by gaining a degree from Durham, not only am I fulfilling my ambition of obtaining a degree but doing so with the Durham name as a sign of quality.

How did your Foundation year go?

My foundation year was a year I will never forget. I made some good friends and by going through it all together we have a special kind of bond you only get by doing the foundation year. My friends from this year are the people I turn to for support or a bit of a chin wag about how different this year is. I was extremely anxious about attending all my lectures as I knew if I didn’t my stress levels would be through the roof! I’d be thinking what have I missed? Will that sole lecture be the foundation of the exam? Will other people do better than me in their essays because I didn’t grasp what was being communicated on the slides? I won’t lie, the year for me was both brilliant and stressful. However, on reflection the stress levels were completely my own doing! The deadlines were all spread out and all of the support you could need was available I just let the “Durham” name stress me, thinking even if I get through this year next year is going to be full of A* pupils who I can’t compete with. FIRST mistake! I’m not competing with them I’m here to get my own degree.16244129_10212046834268547_1748148133_n

How does it feel being a mature student?

For me I do feel like a mature student and I am acutely aware of the differences in attitudes but then I remind myself that I’m not 18, I don’t actually want that part of the student lifestyle but a degree. By going through the Foundation Centre I have made enough friends who can help and support me during my course.

As the only Criminology student from Foundation, I felt worried that I would be sat on my own this year cramping the style of the cool kids. However, that is not the case, you can be as chatty or as reserved as you want to be and there are other mature students who have completed an access course elsewhere. A vibrant mix of people who will mostly welcome you into their fold, though I am not one for mixing socially with them at Lloyds or the Loveshack as I can’t hold my drink as well as them!

What college are you in? Are you involved in college life? How do you like collegiate system?

Although I’m part of St Cuthbert’s College I very rarely have any dealings with them. As a liver-out I never had any need to contact the college and although I did attend some dinners I felt this was more suited for those who lived in.16343603_10212046822868262_1879329117_n

Are you a member of any societies or sports?

I did join DUSS (Swing Society) but as deadlines have mounted my attendance has declined! Naughty! I did think it was a good way to meet others and this society in particular did seem very welcoming of mature students. I do wish I had taken the time to go to more societies in the beginning – but there is always the freshers fair next year!!

What can you advise to other people coming to Durham and taking Foundation year.

The one piece of advice I can offer to future Foundation students is to get involved during class. The confidence I gained last year is actually quite staggering and I can’t imagine what I would be doing if I hadn’t taken that initial leap of faith! The one piece of advice I can offer is to get involved during class. The foundation year allows you to discuss things with each other and the Lecturers in a class room style, this will not be the case in your first year so take the opportunity now! Also, do the readings but don’t get stressed by it! Just make sure you timetable what you need to do and stick to it. The very best of luck!

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