We recently caught up with Jeanne, a business student who came to the UK from South Africa, at Arden's new Birmingham Study Centre. Jeanne's just over half way through her first of three years with Arden and you can read more below about how she's found it, how she manages to combine studying with a busy job and full-time family responsibilities, and what she hopes her degree will do for her.
Hi Jeanne, can you tell a bit about what you're studying?
I'm studying a BA in Business. Business is actually very versatile in the sense that anyone can do it. Whether you want to start your own business, or if you just want to work yourself up the corporate ladder, there's something for everyone.
I’m about halfway through my first year now, and so far we’ve learned about the basics of finance and things like accounting, so we understand the paperwork of it. Then we jumped into learning about how to motivate people, obviously, as a manager, or an owner, you're going to have people working under you. We’ve also looked at management information systems and how it all links together. So, basically a bit of everything!
What was it that made you want to study business?
So, I wanted a degree and I wanted it to be in something that means I can still use it even if I change my mind about what I want to do. With business you can go all over.
What led you to choose Arden university specifically?
I’m South African, so initially I didn't even know if I can study. But I saw Facebook ads for Arden, and they said that if you've got EU membership then you can study. So, I thought I would just explore my options, I didn't get my hopes up though. But then they said yes you can.
What also attracted me to Arden, and why I initially clicked on the ad, was the fact that it was blended learning, which includes face-to-face teaching. I'm old school. I need to see the person before the teaching goes in. Also, it was flexible, so I could combine it with full-time work, unlike some other universities.
What do you want to do once you've got your degree?
I've got experience, but I just never had anything to back it up. So, the short answer is, I just want to climb the corporate ladder when I've got the degree there on paper in front of me.
What’s your family life like?
I'm married with three girls. In fact, my oldest daughter started studying this year at University in Birmingham. It can be a bit of a challenge balancing everything, especially because everyone has their own goals and everyone’s playing sport – at the weekends there's always sport matches to go to – but I think the more you do, the more you want to do. So, I think it suits me perfectly in that I can study and work and do everything else too.
It must be nice to be going through this shared experience with one of your daughters, both being students at the same time?
Yeah it is. She's doing it differently though. She’s in big lectures with lots of younger people, where you can’t ask questions, whereas in my face-to-face sessions you can always ask them if you don’t understand this or if you need things to be explained again.
How do you fit the studying into your life?
So I prefer to do it before work at the beginning of the day, or I'll do it late at night. When the kids are done, when everything is done.
Is it difficult to find the motivation to keep studying in the evenings when you’re so busy?
It's all about the end result. There's obviously a carrot at the end of it. And also weekends are busy because there's so much sport. With rugby and everything else, which I don’t want to give up.
What do you think is unique about Arden? What do you feel it offers that perhaps another university wouldn't have been able?
I think it's definitely the personal approach. I know exactly where to go if I have a problem with like my funds, or if I've got a problem with my timetable. It's that personal connection where people greet you by your name. But also the flexibility where they can offer me face-to-face teaching and online that I can do in my own time.
So you're from South Africa, how long have you been in England for, and what brought you over here?
In December, it was four years. So initially it was because of my daughters’ future, to see where the world will take them. I never thought in a million years I'd be the one studying. Back in South Africa, further education is a bit different and not as easily available or accessible as in the UK. Secondary school only finishes in Grade 12 (the year you turn 18) and the option of university is limited to students that either obtain a scholarship (usually the top academic elite scholars) or if the student’s parent(s) can financially pay for the education (whether self-funded or taking a loan from a financial institution). Four years down the line though, here we are.
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