University is one of those really odd prospects.
When I was younger, I think it was just a given that I would study for a degree.
I don’t think it was as much a given for my older brother but he did, he took the decision to study in England. Now, too many years on, he has built a successful career on the back of his degree, and since he graduated has probably only spent a handful of years living in the UK.
My younger brother didn’t go to uni, and I believe his success outranks mine and that of my older brother. My little brother is a creative, an innovator, and appears to have work life balance completely in control.
I think about my children, and whilst currently there are no university fees in Wales, I can’t help but think this won’t be the case long-term. I consider now that going to university has to completely align to an aspiration of going into a profession, given the debts it is likely attendance will stack up. Compared to a degree-level apprenticeship, where in the right occupation you will earn more and be more credible by gaining employment whilst you earn rather than going to university.
That said, like any amazing parent I don’t practice what I preach.I think I was in one of the final years in the UK where a non-profession based degree had currency in employment. In more recent years I have found myself recruiting people with higher academic qualifications to do lower level jobs. There seemed to be a time where academia became overrated.
It would seem for being born at the right time (even as an August baby!) I am grateful.
I graduated from Cardiff University in 1999, in the same year I also graduated from Glamorgan University. The former with a BA (Hons) the latter with a HNC.
In 2001 I started working for the organisation which still employs me- despite everything. My degree was not relevant to my role, but the commitment to achieve it obviously had currency.
And fortunately the organisation invest in its people. In the time I’ve been employed I have added a string of qualifications to my bow which have stood me in good stead.
The one of which I am most proud is my MBA. I am not really sure what inspired me to commit to it, but I gained so much through the achievement.
It saw me through some of my toughest times personally and professionally. It saw me gain a promotion. It allowed me to understand fully the camaraderie of classmates. All of us in jobs trying to get a work-study balance. Many with families, many gaining partners, and families. It also enabled a once-in-a-lifetime study trip (ahem) to Beijing, where I think I spent the first days in complete disbelief of where life had taken me. It saw me become pregnant, and trying to balance work and a dissertation with my impending due date. Fortunately CM went overdue which meant I managed to graduate, and graduate with my 4 month old daughter. And that was it.
My life became absorbed with family.
And whilst I have done a few courses since- and loved them, I have tried to sign up to longer term qualifications and known at induction that I was not committed to them- you have to want to study, there will be compromises. And up until now I haven’t been able to make them, I haven’t wanted.
But with impending redundancy came reflection.
I remembered that before the dream of a family was the aspiration of a doctorate.
Thoughts cemented around a research area.
With compressed hours, living back in South Wales, and the children now immersed in education.
Well, it seems the timing is right.