Fastrack: My experience (part 2 – the course)

I’d bought a new back pack and filled it with stationery, pads of paper and files…I was ready to go back into education!

The first day of Fastrack I have to admit to being slightly nervous, walking onto campus not knowing anyone was quite daunting. Everyone was to meet in one of the lecture halls, as you get there you start to see familiar faces that you were maybe interviewed with when applying for the course. The nerves soon disappeared as you realise most other people are in the same boat as yourself and the mood is quite jovial.

While in the lecture hall you are introduced to the Fastrack team, given talks from previous Fastrack students and assigned your tutors. You are also given your timetable for the course. You will have work to do in you tutor groups (DASS – developing academic study skills), as-well as having seminars on your chosen subject with other DASS groups.

You learn so much during the course and after being out of education for so long I found everything to be a great help in preparation for starting my degree in September. The best thing to take out of Fastrack though is the friendships created. You form a close bond with the fellow students on the course, as the SU bar will probably confirm! This is also of great help when you start in September as you don’t have that nervous feeling you had a few months before because you’re looking forward to getting to see your new friends again.

For me personally, knowing other students, lecturers and staff around the University when starting my degree in September felt like it gave me an advantage over other people already. I can’t quite do justice to how great a decision taking the Edge Hill Fastrack course was for myself, but if you are considering getting back into education at whatever age then seriously consider this option. I still can’t quite believe that this time last year I was sat with only a handful of GCSEs to my name and now I’m currently in my second semester of an actual degree course!

Fastrack: My experience (part 1 – applying)

In my last post I talked about Fastrack: Preparation for Higher Education and what it is. Now I’ll talk about my experience of applying for this course.

During the beginning of 2017 I was contemplating a career change and started off by trying to find out what jobs I would like to do and what qualifications would be needed. After deciding I would like to be involved in advertising I set upon looking about for courses and came across Edge Hill Universities BSc (Hons) Marketing with advertising course. Perfect…..well nearly. I hadn’t taken any A-levels or any form of education since leaving school in 2001.

Worried that I may be too old and it could now be another couple of years and cost quite a bit of money to achieve the qualifications necessary to just get on my desired course, I e-mailed Edge Hill to find out just exactly what the entry requirements were.

I received this e-mail in response. Unfortunately I held none of these qualifications. The thought of the Fastrack course really appealed to me though, especially as it meant I would be able to start my actual degree course in September that year, something I really didn’t think possible!

At the beginning of March I completed my Fastrack application form online. Not really sure what to expect, but with doubts over my suitability for the course. I had resigned myself that to getting an e-mail back about not being suitable or maybe being told to ‘try next year’…why would they want someone in their 30’s, with no qualifications, who has been out of school for over a decade on this course?!

During the middle of March this e-mail arrived inviting me to attend an interview and complete a test. I was a bit shocked, in my mind I wasn’t a desirable student and was just waiting to be told this but here I was being invited in for an interview and test…maybe it must be easier for them to tell me face to face I’m not student material.

How wrong could I have been, from the moment I arrived for the interview I felt welcome straight away. Helped by the fact I was joined by around another 10 Fastrack applicants, from all walks of life and from all parts of the country…Manchester, Lake District and London to name a few. This put me at ease straight away, knowing it wasn’t just me here. We had a mini tour of the campus, talked about our hopes and expectations from University as-well as what was expected from ourselves. After a short written test, we were told that we would be told over e-mail if we had been accepted onto the course.

The very next day I was greeted with this e-mail in my inbox. Edge Hill did want someone who was over 30, with no qualifications and that had been out of school for over a decade on their course!

Up until the course starts, the communication from Edge Hill in superb as you are guided through enrolment onto Fastrack and the pre-course web page is a great help for any questions or queries you may have. Now that we’ve applied for and been accepted onto Fastrack, my next post will be on the course itself.

Again, if anyone has anything they would like to know or would like a bit more information then feel free to get in touch.

Fastrack: Preparation for Higher Education

I’m currently beginning my second semester of my first year in Edge Hill University. Being in my 30s and only having a few GCSE qualifications to my name, I didn’t even believe it to be possible!

Around this time last year, and with my partner pregnant with my second child, I decided I wanted a career change. I wanted a job with better career prospects and hopefully more money. I searched round at potential jobs/career paths I would like but was met with the same answer over and over…I didn’t have the necessary qualifications. I left school over 17 years ago with a couple of GCSE ‘C’ grades to my name and had been working full time in a number of jobs since.

My first task was to find out what I would like to do for a living that would give me both job satisfaction and better career prospects. Next was to find out what qualifications etc. I’d need to get this job. Once I discovered that I’d really like a job being involved in marketing & advertising and I knew my C grade in GCSE Biology wasn’t going to be enough to get me my dream job, I had to look into how I could achieve the necessary qualifications.
University was the answer but the problem was I couldn’t start the course I wanted until I had a few more qualifications.

After searching for how to obtain these qualifications, and being met with answers that involved year/s studying or large sums of money, I came across Edge Hills Fastrack course. It was a 7 week intensive course starting in June that would give me the opportunity to attend University and my chosen course in September. It sounded too good to be true, and I was even more shocked to find out it was free of charge!

https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/courses/fastrack-preparation-for-higher-education/

This is the link to the Fastrack course for anyone who might be interested. I’ll post a new blog detailing my own experience of Fastrack for anyone who would like to know as to not bombard you with information now. I will say now though that taking this course was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

If you would like to know more or have any questions regarding Fastrack then feel free to ask.

Exam time

So Christmas and New Year have been and gone which means the batteries have been recharged and it’s back to University…first up an exam!!!

If like me, you are a mature student, theres a good chance you haven’t taken an exam in a good number of years. The thought of an exam a couple of months ago filled me with dread and anxiety. Thanks to PPD (Personal Professional Development) lectures I’m feeling more at ease.

PPD lectures are not something I was aware of but I have come to find them a great help in my first semester. They give you an insight of what to expect when it comes to University life, essays and exams among other things, as-well as what is expected from yourself. Through these hour lectures (usually replacing a normal lecture, so it’s not something you have to find extra time for) I feel I have been prepared with what to expect when turning up for my exam and also what I need to bring. These may sound like little things but for someone who last took an exam over seventeen years ago I have found the information to be invaluable. The biggest help I found was the revision tips given, something I always found to be a weak point of mine back in school.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first semester of my first year of University and am really finding my course in marketing and advertising fantastic. I love the creative side of the course and am hoping thanks to PPD lectures and the help of lecturers (who are always approachable) that exams will no longer fill me with the dread they once did.

If truth be told I’m itching to get back in, even with an exam, and start my second semester…I’ve missed the place.

 

Sports

With Christmas fast approaching and thoughts turning to how many pigs in blankets is an acceptable amount to eat? I thought I’d make my first ever post about…..sports!

Before coming to university my own physical activities were limited to walking the dog around the block. At 32, this lack of exercise was starting to show, although I still remained hopeful that Jurgen Klopp may be looking for a pot-bellied, slightly grey, inactive centre forward to spearhead his Liverpool attack.

During freshers week you get the opportunity to put your name down and join a whole variety of clubs and societies. I decided that I was going to try to take advantage of the wide range of sports clubs Edge Hill has on offer, and get involved in weekly sessions. The hardest part was choosing which sport to partake in with a whole host of clubs and teams to choose from; American football, badminton, cheerleading, cricket (indoor and outdoor), football, futsal, handball, hockey, netball, rugby league, rugby union, squash, swimming, table tennis, tennis, trampolining, and volleyball.

I chose badminton as I’d played a bit back in school, although that was over 17 years ago! Before my first session I have to admit to feeling slightly nervous, ‘What if I’m no good?’…’What if I’m seen as too old?’…’What if everyone’s already in groups of friends?’…..In the end I left my session thinking ‘What was I worried about!?’…Firstly regardless of ability everyone is welcome whether you want to try out for the team or just play for fun. Not once have I ever felt too old and everyone has been so welcoming and friendly. It’s become a great opportunity to meet new people who may not be on your course. The camaraderie of being part of this club is just as important as becoming active for me. I’ve even managed to get myself onto the mens 4th team…I’m putting that on my CV!!!

So I can now have as many pigs in blankets as I like this Christmas as I know I’ll be doing more than just half heartedly walking the dog…and can someone let Jurgen know that I’m unavailable Wednesdays as I have badminton matches.

 

Joseph Harrison

Edge Hill University Mens 4th team badminton player