I am taking part in this year's Blogging from A to Z Challenge. This is my submission for Y ...
I was a terrible student in school. It had started off fine, but I had a difficult time when I first went to boarding school in England and I'm afraid that I indulged my sulky teen thereafter. Whilst the school had high academic standards - it was assumed that, as girls, one aspired to nothing more than to be a secretary, nurse or physiotherapist. The medical world wasn't for me - I've no stomach for it - and being a secretary would only require my learning shorthand and typing, together with grammar and spelling skills. None of which required much academic application on my part - so I gave it none!
I knew that getting married and having babies wasn't my thing, but I had no idea at all where to start as I'd known no-one who'd done anything else. I met my first feminist in my early 20s and she certainly opened my mind to a world of possibilities. Under Georgie's tutelage, I sat down, looked at my skills and personal qualities, and decided I was well-suited to work in advertising. I started working as a temporary secretary, gaining knowledge and experience in every department in turn, with the aim of moving into client handling. A year later my plans were going great and that client handling job was all lined up ... when I discovered that I was pregnant. Talk about a burst balloon!
Working full-time as a single parent didn't leave time for much else. I was fortunate in having my mother offer herself as child care, but I couldn't have a career - only a job. Those years, working full-time, running a home, bringing up my daughter - you know being the perfect everything to everyone - I got bored and frustrated. I wanted to do more, to stretch my brain, but I couldn't work out how to fit in all in.
The first thing I did when on my own again was to sign up for an Open University short course. Oh was I ever hooked! I went on to study art history, literature, history, psychology and the social sciences. I have never felt so fulfilled in all my life. I simply loved studying - I enjoyed writing essays, I looked forward to my tutorials in whatever form they took, I even thrived in the exam environment.
Having received encouragement from one of my OU tutors, I applied to do a part-time postgraduate course at a London University - one I had long admired. The application process was hairy - the interview went well - but the course itself was pure joy. Despite a 3-4 hour round trip to attend, I all but danced down the road from the station and used to be filled with such a buzz after class that I'd stay up late into the night talking to a night-bird psychology-studying friend. I studied hard, whilst continuing to work almost full-time, I had virtually no time to read novels yet spent a fortune on books, I absolutely wrecked my gorgeous expensive bedlinen by falling asleep whilst writing essays in bed. It is over now and I miss it terribly ...
I've come to believe that attending University at 18-19 is not the best design. Except for those with a long-held passion for pursuing a particular profession - law, medicine, engineering - it would seem sensible for people to work upon finishing school and live a bit before taking the opportunity for further study. The maturing process gives more people a chance of discovering what they are genuinely suited to or interested in. You'll probably have less students getting drunk every night and more attending lectures.
I long to study again. I constantly browse courses trying to find something I can afford. I feel fidgetty and like a bit of me is missing. If I came into a lot of money, I would give it all up and become a perpetual student. Why did it take so long to discover the latent academic in me?
How do you feel about learning? Do you agree that a mature student maximises the opportunity or am I being a kill-joy?
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