Am I too old to go to uni?

When I decided I wanted to study Counselling and Psychotherapy at university, I was 22. I had just missed admission so I knew that it was going to be over a year until I could begin my course, making me 23 at the point of enrollment. I did the (very basic) maths. Graduating at the age of 26.

Being a serial planner and born worrier, I began to spiral into thoughts of how my future might now go “I want a Master’s, so that would take me to the age of 28…”

A frantic Google search into the possible career paths of a counsellor and how long they can take to become established in fuelled this fire “1 year to find the perfect role, 1 year to train and settle in…I would be 30. What if I want a PhD?! Where do I fit in family or travelling?”

My personal statement sat waiting to be submitted to UCAS and the glossy brochures landed on my doormat. Pictures of young people laughing and joking, advice for school leavers on getting good A-Levels, tips for moving away from home…my heart sank. Another thing to worry about. Not only was I completely overhauling my life and routine, putting my future on hold…I was going to be in a room full of 18-year-olds for three years.

Of course, I was wrong. I was wrong about all of those things.

I am not the oldest on my course and we rarely consider each other’s ages when we learn and spend time together, even when we socialise. My life is not hold – I have moved house, changed (part-time) careers and began a work placement in my dream role of a psychotherapist all whilst studying full-time at Edge Hill. When I graduate, I know I won’t be ‘starting again’, I will simply be continuing my journey.

You are never too old to go to university. Some of my peers came from sixth form, some were parents ready to build a career now their children were in education, some came from professional careers like I did and some came back into education from retirement, having discovered a new calling in life. You are never too old. It is never too late.

Sam xo

Top Tips for your BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy Interview at Edge Hill

At this time of year, interviews for prospective Counselling and Psychotherapy students have begun at Edge Hill. Two years ago, I was preparing for my interview and found myself frantically searching Google for insider knowledge to no avail.

If you have been offered an interview, you will already have a rough idea of what will be asked but each interview will still be somewhat unique based on the responses you give. So, I’ve pulled together some general advice to get you on the right track.

Spend some time really familiarising yourself with person-centred counselling. In the interview, they will really dig deep to make sure you have understood the model of counselling and will ask your thoughts on it, how you imagine yourself practising it etc. A rehearsed definition won’t be enough, you will need to really be ready to unpick it and discuss it!  Spend some time journaling your ideas around the model and what it means to you beyond simply helping others or making a difference.

As you are researching the model, have a look at some of theory and books surrounding it. Being able to give some examples of what you read and how it made you feel will evidence that you have been preparing and will also better equip you for any counselling specific questions that may come up. Websites like Counselling Tutor will have simplified versions of the theory for you, with references to the books used. However, read carefully as Counselling Tutor covers all models of counselling whereas the Edge Hill course is wholly focussed on person-centred, experiential counselling.

There is also a huge focus on personal development and self-awareness on our course, which means a lot of sharing of emotion and being vulnerable (as well as being open to learning stuff about yourself that shocks you or that you don’t necessarily like). An awareness of this and some consideration of how it will feel to be on that journey with up to 30 other people for 3 years will stand you in good stead in the interview – even if that comes in the form of an honest “I’ll find it really hard but I’m going to do it even when it hurts”.  Again, spending some time exploring this in a journal will help you to form a really clear standpoint that you can confidently and authentically share in the interview.

If you have an interview coming up for this course, or if you are thinking of applying for 2021 entry and beyond, feel free to ask me questions about the interview and/or the course in the comments below!

Sam xo

My 5 Favourite Things About Edge Hill

Spring is upon us and in three short months, my second year at Edge Hill will draw to a close, leaving me facing my third year and final year as an undergraduate. So, I’m feeling quite reflective. List time? List time.

My 5 Favourite Things About Edge Hill

1. The beach!

Studying full time and working in a demanding job, like I do, can get really overwhelming. So, I often take myself off for walks on campus on my breaks or choose the ‘scenic route’ back to my car to try and find some peace. Nestled by the water in Eastern Campus, ‘La Plage’ is a little slice of heaven that gives you the chance to sunbathe or feel sand under your feet and then be back inside for your 2pm lecture.

2. The Arts Centre

I’m a Counselling and Psychotherapy student and I have never lived on campus or even near campus, so I initially dismissed The Arts Centre as a place where art degrees must be taught and where students who lived on campus could watch films at night. Oh, how wrong I was! Everything from theatre to music can be found in The Arts Centre and there are regular live shows from comedians at bargain prices which would ordinarily cost £20-£70 per ticket on their arena tours.

3. Ormskirk

On my course we sometimes have gaps of up to three hours between sessions so, rather than commuting home to turn around and come back, my coursemates and I like to head into Ormskirk and grab brunch. Hopping on the free bus with our Unicards and heading to Wetherspoons if the student finance has run out or getting a delicious brunch and a milkshake at Cobble if we’re feeling a little more ‘flush’ is a great way to catch up and relax.

4. Catalyst

More than just a library, Edge Hill’s Catalyst is open 24/7 and boasts millions of pounds worth of books, computers and digital resources. However, for me, it’s the additional student support you can access via the helpdesk that makes the difference. Money advice clinics, study skills sessions, 1:1 advice on everything from debt and weight loss to essay writing and housing…I could go on.

5. 53.3 Degrees

We’re blessed with an abundance of restaurants, cafes and coffee spots at Edge Hill, including our very own Starbucks, but my favourite is 53.3 Degrees in the Catalyst building. Delicious, fresh coffee with natural light flowing through and gorgeous views of campus…this little coffee shop has everything I need to gather my thoughts and find some headspace.

Have you visited campus yet? Or maybe you’re a current student? What would be on your list?

Sam xo

Ways to Save Money on Campus (Part 2)

Welcome back to part 2 of this mini-series! In part 1 I gave you some tips for getting filling, affordable lunches that also earn you freebies and also explained how to make your coffee addiction work for you. This time, we’ll look at how you can eat and drink on campus when your finances are looking seriously frightful…without any lukewarm sandwiches being carted around in your rucksack!

Staying Hydrated

It’s easy to quickly rack up unnecessary spending at university by grabbing drinks from shops and vending machines, not to mention the excess plastic you can get through by doing this. Get yourself a water bottle and enjoy crisp, cool water from the filtered fountains all over campus!

Staying Full

Studying hard is hungry work and there’s nothing like a study session to get you craving snacks! So, having plenty of hearty food is key for a long day on campus. One way to do this on a tight budget is to cook warm, filling meals at home in bulk then bring a portion (or two, we don’t judge) to university with you. In the SU building, you will find some microwaves where you can heat up your pre-prepped meals to enjoy in between classes. This can save you £2-£6 a day minimum on-campus spending and potentially hundreds of pounds each month in groceries if you plan ahead and buy simple ingredients in bulk!

Cutting Costs on Caffeine

In part 1 I explained how to get discounts on coffee and how you can make the most of loyalty schemes, but I know that sometimes buying coffee on the go is just not an option. However, it’s an absolute staple drink in the average student’s day!

My advice is to grab a travel mug and keep plenty of your favourite tea bags or coffee sachets in your bag. Simply ask for hot water at one of the cafes or coffee shops on campus.

So, there we have it! A handful of ways to scrimp, save and spend wisely on campus. What advice would you add?

Sam xo

Ways to Save Money on Campus (Part 1)

The student budget is an old cliche for a reason – pretty much every student is on a tight budget! Even if you’re not on the classic student budget, you’re probably still up for a freebie or a bargain if there’s one going. Well, you’re in luck. Now that I’m in my second year and on a tighter budget than ever, I have gathered some excellent ways to save money and find freebies on campus.

In this two-part mini-series, I’ll begin with how to make your spending work hard for you before sharing some more extreme penny-pinching tips in part 2.

Subway Points

Nestled within the SU building is our very own Subway, serving delicious sandwiches, salads, and snacks all day every day. You’re probably thinking “That’s not necessarily a cheap lunch, Sam” but hear me out. If you scan your Subcard when you make a purchase, you earn points and activate a ‘double points for 7 days’ incentive. Return again within those 7 days for their budget meal deal and scan your card again. The cycle starts again. Very quickly, you have enough points for a free 6-inch sub or salad bowl – I regularly purchase their budget meal deals and have a few free lunches a month!

Most Subway receipts also have the option to get a free cookie when you review your experience online. It takes 2 minutes, maximum.

Loyalty Cards for Coffee Lovers

The coffee shop I visit most on campus is 53.3 degrees within the Catalyst. Handily, they offer a loyalty card that earns you a free coffee when you collect enough stamps. If you’re a coffee lover you very quickly fill a card and get your freebie. The cookies in there are also delicious – highly recommend! Anyone else spotting a cookie theme here?

Discounted Coffee

Whilst we’re on the subject, bringing a reusable coffee mug will get you 20p off your drink. This in itself very quickly adds up to the equivalent of an extra coffee and also eliminates the amount of waste. Who doesn’t love helping the planet?

Now that I’ve helped you to make your lunch and coffees work for you, don’t forget to check back for part 2 of this mini-series where I will be digging a little deeper for those occasions where your purse or wallet is really looking dire. We’ll be talking leftovers, emergency tea bags and staying hydrated.

Sam xo

Daily Essentials for the Commuting Student

The internet is packed with lists of student essentials and survival tips but here are the top 3 genuinely helpful items to pack each morning for students who commute to campus – from one bleary-eyed commuter to another.

1. Passes, permits and parking

If you’re driving in, apply for a permit straight away to avoid getting a fine. It’s worth finding local alternative parking in Ormskirk and getting the free bus to and from campus during busier periods as spaces are very limited. Don’t forget to check out the Car Share scheme to see if you could save money and guarantee a parking space.

One way to avoid the parking wars and look after our planet is to use public transport. Look out for ‘hacks’ – sometimes you can save money by splitting your journey into two passes or tickets. Student railcards and passes are also available in most districts. A free bus service runs from the centre of Ormskirk directly to campus (and back) too!

2. A travel mug and water bottle

The early starts and long lectures can take their toll, especially as dark mornings set in. Invest in a good travel mug so that you can get discounted hot drinks from campus coffee shops and a water bottle to stay hydrated. There are water fountains around campus. This isn’t the place to scrimp, invest in cups and bottles that won’t spill all over your books and notes when you’re on the go!

Top tip: if money is tight, pack sachets of coffee and tea bags then simply ask for hot water in The Hub.

3. Chargers and earphones

Always have a power bank or plug and cables for your phone or tablet with you so that you can charge up in the Catalyst on your breaks. Earphones will make study sessions and commutes much more enjoyable, too. If you want to use a laptop on campus but don’t want to lug yours around, your Unicard will give you access to ‘Laptop Loans’ so that you can borrow one on campus. There are also hundreds of computers in the Catalyst that you can use 24/7. Yes, literally!

You may be expecting to see stationery and textbooks on the list, but the Catalyst has several floors of books and your Edge Hill account will give you access to thousands more on any computer. You can also purchase uni essentials such as stationery and snacks from the Catalyst’s vending machines and the Student’s Union shop. So, if you forget any of those things, you’re covered. Winner.

Let me know in the comments if there is anything you would add!

Sam xo