Reflections on going back into higher education...
I started my undergrad 24 years ago. There are many subjects that an 18-year-old just doesn't tend to know about, like occupational therapy or educational psychology. All the graduate careers stuff tended, at least in those days, to push one towards finance or marketing or law.
After a brief dabble with chartered accountancy, I trained and qualified as a solicitor. It genuinely didn't occur to me at that age that it would be so difficult to combine ambition and children or latterly to get back the career I once had.
Nor could I have predicted the profound effect my bright daughter's SEN would have on the family.
Okay, so I have yet to get practical experience in either psychology or education, but I am working on it, and at least the MSc Psychology of Education that I have just started will give me the theory.
Every morning, I am enthused to learn more, and who knows where it will take me?
I like that it is something that is all mine, and it makes a change from the standard daily plate spinning.
I also like that university is still a place full of optimism and new beginnings, away from the storm clouds brewing in the rest of the world. Yes, there is new technology but don’t let that put you off, as frankly, a lot of this new to everyone.
Walking into the entrance hall of one of the university’s main libraries, fully-masked, and following the one-way footprints to collect the books I had reserved online a full five working days earlier in complete silence without seeing or hearing another human, is enough to make anyone think...
"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore...”
But such change is not necessarily a bad thing. I want to show my children what can be achieved and the value of resilience. And if nothing else, it will give me a rest from the prevailing politics, pandemics and Paw Patrol!
So if there is a career you have always wanted, now is a good time to seize the day. Regardless of childcare or being worried about being out of academia for so long or being prone to imposter syndrome or whatever else good excuse (I’ve got all of these t-shirts and several more), rest assured that all of this can be worked around.
Education these days is largely online and thus inherently flexible. If one path doesn't work, or is coming to an end, never mind. For me, this is how to forge a new one.
Fiona is an aspiring educational psychologist with an enhanced DBS. She's actively looking for any volunteering opportunities in education/ schools or psychology research. firstname.lastname@example.org.