Laura’s story

22 years old, Workington

Where did you grow up?

Workington.

What did you study in higher education?

Education Studies at the University of Cumbria (for my undergraduate degree) and Psychology of Education at the University of Manchester (for my Masters (postgraduate) degree).

Why did you decide on this area?

During my time in year 13, I realised that I wanted to work in education, but wasn’t sure of the exact route to go down. After applying for Psychology courses, I put myself into UCAS Clearing and got onto the Education Studies degree at the University of Cumbria. During the course, I was particularly interested in the psychological modules and how this subject related to education. So, to continue learning in this area, I applied to study the Psychology of Education Masters at the University of Manchester.

Has your career or education taken any unexpected turns?

My journey to higher education was not straightforward. I always thought that I would need to know what I wanted to do for a career straight afterwards. I had no idea. Also, neither of my parents went to university, therefore I had no direct experience of higher education. Despite this, my mam always encouraged me to aim higher and whilst at sixth form, there was a general expectation that you would apply for university. Following a few visits to universities for their open days, I decided to apply for psychology courses as I was doing the A Level and thought that I wouldn’t mind studying it further.

I got a conditional offer from the University of Chester, and was accepted on results day. However, shortly after applying I realised that I didn’t want to study this degree, or want to move away. At this stage in my life I didn’t feel I had the confidence to move to a new city. UCAS Clearing got me onto the degree I completed. This was absolutely the right decision; not only did I broaden my experiences, but I learned such a wealth of knowledge about the different aspects of education.

Did you find anything difficult about applying for and/or starting a degree?

As my A Level results were not what I expected/hoped, I initially doubted my ability to complete a degree. The staff at the university were very supportive, however, and I completed the Education Studies degree to a standard I did not expect of myself.

The reaction from my family to doing another year at university (in Manchester) was mixed, but I knew that I was confident enough to move away after my experiences at the University of Cumbria and the related work and placements. Manchester is a wonderful city, and living there was definitely a change after living in Workington all of my life. I met people and experienced things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise, and I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to do so.

What advice would you give to someone from your area?

My biggest advice for students looking toward their future is to believe in yourself and don’t put too much pressure on the exact career you are looking at straight after the course or apprenticeship. Many higher education options broaden your knowledge and experience and will open your view to opportunities and careers you would have never considered. Look around and see what is out there, and focus on your interests.

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