My time at Coventry College as an adult learner
Ben talks to us about his decision to return to education, after nearly 10 years away from it. He was worried about finances, the impact it would have on his family and how it would affect his current working life, but tells us how Coventry College was the right choice for him.
I made the decision to return to education when a promotion came up at work that I desperately wanted, but couldn’t apply for due to some skills gaps I had. I have worked at the same software company, in the HR team since I finished school nearly 10 years ago. I absolutely love my job and have worked my way up through the business over the years to a managerial position. I was made aware that a senior position was going to become available within the next few years and I knew it was something that I wanted to go for.
Although I had a lot of experience with the company, having worked in each department, the one skill that I knew I would need to develop further was people management. I knew that I couldn’t necessarily gain that experience at work but didn’t want to leave my job to get the experience elsewhere either. So, after talking to friends and colleagues it seemed the best option would be to return to college to develop the skills I needed.
The idea of returning to education was daunting. I hadn’t been in education for nearly 10 years and as silly as it sounds, I was worried that I’d forgotten how to study! I went through so many emotions and uncertainties about how I would pay for college, how I would fit studying in alongside my job and social life and how the change would impact my family. There was definitely a lot to think about when it comes to returning to adult education.
Accessing Adult Learning in Coventry
I got to where I am by simply searching online for adult learning in Coventry, and Coventry College was one of the first places that I found. My first contact was using their online chat, which allowed me to speak to someone directly and have all my questions answered – they were really helpful. Coventry College was so understanding about fitting studies around my current life. They spent the time explaining to me that adult studies are as flexible as possible and can work around me.
The college understood exactly what I was looking for and shared with me their Level 5 CIPD HR Associate Diploma in People Management. At first I was worried that I didn’t have the right qualifications to even get onto the course, but they explained to me that my experience in HR would certainly work in my favour and it was definitely worth me applying. They explained that if after my interview they didn’t feel I was quite right for that course, they would be able to place me on an alternative one.
They also put me at ease about my biggest worry – finances. I had no idea that adults could get loans for college courses, but they explained everything to me and pointed me in the right direct to find out more and apply for my loan. This way I knew I could attend college and still support my family.
Finally, I made the decision to apply for the course, I went for an interview, and I was offered a place!
Returning to Education
While this may be hard to believe, studying as an adult isn’t too dissimilar to being at school. I have lessons with passionate and dedicated tutors, mostly online. I make notes and participate in debates and attend practical workshops where appropriate. So, although this is more challenging, the basics of learning and studying are exactly the same.
After I’d settled back into the education setting, I actually felt so much more confident than I thought I would. I’ve acquired skills that have made my job so much easier – even little things like being more organised and disciplined. I’ve developed an ability to focus on tasks to make sure that they are completed to a high standard. I work under pressure and towards goals every day at work; alone and as part of a team, so it was super easy to fit back into the classroom environment without the “first day nerves” of meeting new people.
One of the best things about studying as an adult is that I was surrounded by highly focussed people. Returning to study is a serious commitment and this has been reflected in my peers’ attitudes and approaches to the course. I’m surrounded by people that understand the challenges of studying alongside adult life and we have been able to support each other throughout.
Support for Adult Learners
From start to finish I had access to a wide range of support; everything from loans for college courses, health and wellbeing, advice and guidance services on courses and careers, and a wide range of campus resources including IT facilities and the Learning Hub – or library!
My advice for anyone who is in a similar position to what I was, is remember that you won’t be alone in returning to education, everyone on your adult course will be returning to education after some time away from it – it’s so important to support each other along the way.