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Access & Degree choices

(4 Posts)
SleepyAmetist Sun 30-Apr-17 15:55:49

I have always wanted to go to University. Unfortunately, I never completed my A-Levels due to personal circumstances at the time.

My daughter is 15 months old now, we live in a tiny bedsit in London with her father, and we are on full benefits (I won't go into why, although I hope you won't judge me too harshly on that alone). I have been considering taking an Access to HE course in September at a local college, I was thinking Access to Humanities and Social Science - I enjoyed English, Sociology, Philosophy, and Psychology when I was doing my A-Levels. I would love to go to University afterwards, so that I can get a career in something I will enjoy in the future. I don't want my daughter to think she has to 'do better than my mum' in education, or see that I am full of regrets about my academic path and job prospects etc.

I just have a few questions... sorry for the very long post! My head is a bit of a mess atm trying to plan all this out.

1) I have my partner to help with childcare, come April she will be getting 15 free hours of childcare which will help take the load off things. If my partner got a job when I went to Uni, then we may be able to apply for a childcare Grant to help pay for some of the fees from my Uni, as I understand it, if we didn't claim from WTC?

2) I would like to study a Social Policy degree, am I doing an appropriate Access course for this? Has anyone had any experience of this degree, what was it like? I have also been having a look at joint honours in Social Policy with Criminology.

3) I would like to work in housing/benefits, or something akin to that. Being on benefits, having struggled with facing homelessness in London with such high prices and a crisis, has given me a desire to work with people in similar situations. I also like the idea of being a Family Support Worker and helping struggling families access services etc, or helping families escape DV - my mother had to do just that, so again you can see I would like to work in areas I have had some personal experience in. I'm not interested in teaching or researching, and Social Policy seems like it would equip me with the appropriate knowledge to work in these sectors. Am I wrong?

4) As we are in receipt of HB atm, would we struggle finding private accommodation near the Uni? Most seem to be shared houses which aren't appropriate for a family. Most landlords won't accept DSS tenants anymore - but I have seen some accept students, are they more likely to accept payments from my Maintenance loan? If I move July/August 2018, how do I pay the rent to a non-DSS landlord with HB until my loan comes in? I'm very stressed about this. I would like to move out of London as it is so unaffordable, our bedsit is over £700 a month. I know we don't pay it atm, but I am thinking long-term that when we work we would rather pay that much for a 1bed/2bed than a studio.

5) I have been looking at studying at the Uni of Kent for this degree. I was born in Canterbury and have family in Medway so I feel connected to the locations already. Any experiences of this Uni? Any others in the South East you could recommend?

6) Regarding the Access course - what topics did you cover? I would likely be taking English, Sociology, and Psychology modules.

SleepyAmetist Sun 30-Apr-17 16:23:21

Oh, and if my partner didn't get a job while I'm at Uni, would we have to claim benefits again every summer and then cancel come September? Confused!

GoatsFeet Sun 30-Apr-17 18:23:17

Can't answer the benefits questions, but you have a number of resources/choices in thinking about university.

It's great you know the kind of degree you want to do, so why not work backwards? Think about where you want to study, what degree programmes offer you the kind of course - content & qualifications - that will take you into the field you want to work in.

Then see what those universities say about potential students coming via access courses. Most good universities seek a diversity of students, and so encourage able students from 'non-traditional' backgrounds (we also get a bit of extra funding for "Widening Participation" students <ahem>).

But we really want motivated able students who know why they're there, and want to get on with things. You sound just that sort of student - I think you'll find you'll be welcomed.

As for accommodation: do you need to stay in/near London or the S/E? Are you mobile? Think north! You may be able to rent a whole flat or small house in Manchester or Liverpool or Lancaster or Newcastle or Sheffield or Nottingham ... all places with excellent universities.

You may also find that good universities have family accommodation. This is usually for overseas postgrads, but you can only ask.

Do some deliberate & constructive web-surfing, and good luck! flowers

Plainandsimple Sun 30-Apr-17 19:22:11

I have no advice but am following with interest hoping to pick up some advice myself. Now in my late 40's, I know I need a degree to be able to change careers but I'm torn between thinking it's too late, too expensive etc; or that I've got another 20 years of work to go, I may as well enjoy them, I can apply for a student loan, its now or never - and so on! Actually I do have some advice - go for it! Yes it'll be a struggle, but it'll be worth it - don't be like me and looking back on your working life thinking 'if only..'!

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