University… to go, or not to go…

Northumbria University City Campus

Too late was the cry!

I should, had I followed my plan for 2012, be over four weeks in to a degree in Human BioSciences at Northumbria University but, after writing a winning personal statement and putting myself through an intensive HEFC Diploma, I changed my mind. The question is, was that the right decision?

Everything I wrote in my personal statement is true. However, what I don’t believe to be true is the romantic idea that going back to university would magically lead me into a fulfilling career.

As a mature student, who didn’t go to university the first time around, I’ve often felt I missed out. However, what I think I actually missed out on is the hedonistic aspects of going to university. Second time around, there are numerous factors which need to be considered before embarking on a return to education.

It is true, there are many mature students enrolled on courses at universities throughout the UK but they are still a minority. Most will go on to have very rewarding careers but, their time at university will be quite different to how it might have been had they gone as a carefree 19-year-old.

I would be 37 when I finished my degree and would leave a novice, my scientific knowledge would be improved but I’d be unable to get a job as anything other than a medical laboratory assistant (MLA) without specialising and going on to do a MSc and ultimately a PhD. I dread to think just how many thousands of pounds that little lot would equate to? Plus, even after I’d completed this marathon educational adventure I’d be up against younger, more experienced scientists.

Simon Dolan, author of ‘How to Make a Million without a Degree’ reports, “Nearly 1 in 11 graduates are still unemployed six months after leaving university – the highest proportion for nearly 17 years, according to a  2011 poll by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit charity 2011 figures.”

Who knows, had I gone to university the first time around I could be an extraordinary neurosurgeon by now but, for the moment, I’m going to save myself a fortune and a considerable amount of stress by following the path mapped out by Richard Branson, Simon Dolan and other great entrepreneurs – giving university life a wide-berth!

I will talk more about this in my next post but, my decision to go to university was based almost entirely on the results of a Myers Briggs Personality Test…

Anyway, for any young whipper-snappers out there, with time on their hands, who want to get in to university. Here is an example of a winning personal statement:

I aspire to make examining the link between nutrition and disease my lifetime’s work. From the moment I looked at my first cell under the microscope I have been fascinated by human biology. I am particularly interested in the science of nutrition, the effect it has on the human body and the manifestation of disease. If my application is successful I look forward to broadening my scientific understanding of the biology of the human body and subsequently specialising in clinical nutrition. I am hugely passionate about this subject and have read many books on how the human body functions, specifically relating to nutrition, including; The Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford, Liver Detox by Patrick Holford, The Truth About Food by Jill Fullerton-Smith, Metabolic Typing by William L Wolcott & Trish Fahey and The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain to name but a few. In addition, I attended a series of seminars on Nutritional Therapy with the Nutritional Healing Foundation which increased my knowledge of anatomy and physiology along with building upon my understanding of how food and other environmental factors can influence homeostasis. I also relate this knowledge to my personal life and have experienced first hand how what we eat and drink can directly affect health. Most importantly, after my father was diagnosed with bowel cancer, I used my extensive knowledge and additional Internet research to help him make some positive lifestyle changes, resulting in a dramatic improvement of the management of his symptoms. It is the science behind how nutrition affects the course of disease that I find most intriguing. Being involved first-hand in scientific research into some of the major diseases, such as cancer and type II diabetes, would enable me to realise my ambition. I am a 33-year-old, mature student and have had a very successful career in the advertising industry, spanning over 12 years. Having worked my way up from an admin position to Account Director, a role that required a great deal of responsibility and organisation. Over the past two years, I re-trained as a beautician and started my own mobile beauty business, allowing me to work around my studies. Although I found this work enjoyable I have had a long-standing desire to return to education and obtain the necessary qualifications to make working in a scientific field a possibility. After extensive research, including the Myers Briggs Personality Test (INTP) and the Stamford Test, I am confident that I have the commitment, desire and required skills to fully embrace the challenging course of study I have chosen, Human Biosciences BSc. My brother-in-law has been a great source of inspiration. He has an Msc in Haematology and works as a Biomedical Scientist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead. Some of his research was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. He has given me an excellent insight into working in a laboratory and will continue to be a great source of support and an excellent sounding board. I am currently enrolled on the HEFC Diploma (Health & Social Science Pathway), the first step on my journey, which will prepare me for the university experience and provide the required number of credits.