Sharlyn Podlesny
Access to Arts, Social Sciences and Primary Education
After another gruelling 12-hour shift, I sat down and started scrolling through Social Media. Work life had gradually been wearing me down. After many years in the same job I really had progressed as far as I could and was now living for the weekends. It was March 2019, when I came across a post by NESCOL advertising the SWAP access course. The words Primary Education caught my attention and as I read more something lit up inside of me. Although I had worked hard at school, life had taken over and the need to earn money was more pressing than furthering my education. I now knew that my out of date qualifications were nothing but a bit of paper. I completed the attached ‘send me more info’ form on a whim and put the idea of going back to college to the back of my mind. At the grand old age of 45 and extensive financial commitments my thinking was it this really is not very practical.  However, NESCOL quickly replied and I had an interview date.

The interview was a straightforward process and very informal. I think the scariest part was the waiting and being surrounded by 18-year olds who were so bright and full of enthusiasm. It was not very long until I heard back offering me a place. I honestly could not believe it. I handed in my notice at work, bought a pencil case and applied for funding and a bursary.

Starting college was a daunting experience, my sense of direction was horrendous, and I began doubting my capabilities. Especially my digital skills. I can honestly say the support from the lecturers, tutors and SWAP was second to none. They were patient, understanding and most of all encouraging. The course was interesting, diverse, and current. I even managed to master maths (with a lot of guidance from the lecturer but nonetheless I did it). Everyone in the class was a mature student and extremely supportive of each other which genuinely helped. Even as the pandemic hit and we were working from home the support continued.

I was accepted into Aberdeen University to study a MA in Primary Education in August 2020 and am loving every minute so far. Finally, my dreams are coming true and, in the future, I hope to become a fully qualified and registered primary teacher. So, thank you SWAP. The course is specifically designed for progression onto university providing the foundations and without it I would still be working 12-hour shifts in a job I was no longer enjoying. Finally if you are pondering whether to apply my advice would be bite the bullet as you are never to old, and you never know where it might lead.
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