Arden Law student Sophie takes time out from her busy schedule to share her story with us. A prolific blogger; she tackles topics like mental health, student life, wellbeing and feminism.
I often think back to what I dreamed and aspired to become at fourteen years old, and how, ten years down the line, I could not have paved a more different path for myself. At fourteen years old, I was a committed athlete with Olympic hopes, and a brick university studying modern languages was in the pipeline. Looking back, I was young and mostly naive, but also, subject to the secondary education focus on getting into a ‘‘traditional’ university.
I, like many other people my age, felt trapped by the inescapable pressure to achieve high grades and obtain a place at a well-known university. At the time, I felt like there was no other option. I was foolishly unaware of the many other career-progressive options that were available to me.
I think when it comes to university experiences I am what you might call a ‘dab-hand’. Arden is, in fact, my third attempt at a degree. When I left school (the first time) I dabbled in studying with a top online university and whilst it suited my circumstances at the time, it felt behind the times, with all of the materials in separate little booklets and a complete lack of tutorial support.
Fast forward a few years and I had returned to school and completed three full A-Levels in one year, achieving AAB in English Literature, Science and Psychology, I applied to a prestigious, traditional university and got in.
Whilst studying at a brick university certainly has its benefits, personally, I found it was over-priced, grade-driven and left little time for any other kind of commitment. Paying £9,000 per year for a very short amount of contact time, was not something I felt was entirely justified.
So, there I was again, at 21 years old, lost in a world of opportunities that I felt completely out of depth to access. I tried a few things after leaving university: I became a personal trainer, I applied for numerous jobs, but I still felt ‘guilty’ for not achieving that ‘true potential’ that is drummed into you at school.
I felt desperate, so I started to research other opportunities, and I was offered an apprenticeship with a local company. I didn’t know what else I wanted to do, or even what I was good at, so I went for it and I have not looked back since. Along the way, I picked up the 2017 Apprentice of the Year award, I have a full-time permanent contract, and I found a career that I love.
When I finished my apprenticeship, I decided I wanted to further my training and that is when I found Arden and started my degree. I am a true believer in everything happening for a reason and on reflection, choosing Arden University as a distance learning provider was a fantastic decision for me.
I am now one-third of the way through a Law degree, and I love it. Law was not originally the path I chose to go down, but I now know, it was the path I was always meant to walk. Studying whilst working full time provides me with opportunities I would never have otherwise achieved.
I am very lucky in the sense that my employers provide me with time during my working day to complete my studies. I plan my own working day, so as long as I get all of my actual work done, I can spend the rest of the time on my degree. At the end of the day, it is about finding a balance and what works for you. Studying and working at the same time has allowed me to buy my first home, go on holidays and keep up with a multitude of hobbies in the evenings and at weekends - such as gymnastics coaching, netball and blogging.
I am probably the most introverted introvert you could meet and as a result of that, I am not very good at articulating myself verbally. But I can write, and that’s how I found blogging. I love being a blogger because it enables me to share my thoughts and feelings with my followers, and even my friends and family, that I would find difficult to discuss certain topics with otherwise.
I started blogging in 2011 when I was dealing with a lot of things in my personal life and felt like I had no one else to talk to. I used it as a diary and kept every post private, but I found it really helped me to put my thoughts and feelings somewhere. In 2013 my Dad ended his life, throwing my whole life into complete turmoil and that is when my public blog was born.
I have never looked back over the past 6 years, and I have found not only has it helped me (and others) endlessly, but it has also enabled me to become a more confident and coherent writer both academically and journalistically. I really would recommend blogging to anyone. Everyone has a story to share, and the opportunities and experiences that can evolve as a result of it are endless.
Something that I was hesitant about when committing to a distance learning degree was the lack of extra-curricular activities, compared to the choice when attending a brick university. While there is an absence of traditional clubs and societies, the level of support to pursue my chosen hobby is exceptional.
Over the coming year, I feel very lucky and grateful to have the opportunity to share my Arden experience with you. Arden has provided me with a platform to not only develop my blogging capabilities, but equally to stretch my social media skills - including video making and editing. So you'll be hearing much more from me!
Overall, I really would recommend studying with Arden to anyone, with a multitude of degree opportunities, the possibilities are endless (and it is much, much cheaper!). The Arden Team are all very knowledgeable and were on hand to answer my multitude of questions before I committed to studying.
Equally, if are already an Arden student, or you just want to find out a bit more about blogging feel free to have a look at how I do it, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org where I can help you with any questions or direction you may need to get started.
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