Considering a return to education when you don’t have qualifications can be daunting – but there are more people already rising to the challenge than you realise! Here recent Arden graduate Toby shares his story.
Entrepreneur Toby Bradley has proved that it’s 'never too late to graduate' from university despite leaving school without any GCSE’s.
Toby Bradley, 29, from Blackburn in Lancashire, only considered the importance of education in his early 20’s and used those key years to turn his future around by returning to education.
His story was so inspiring Arden invited Toby to star in our 2020 television campaign that is currently airing across many UK channels.
In 2015, Toby was accepted and enrolled at Arden University to study a business management and accounting course for two years before going onto the second stage of his degree where he studied finance management.
He graduated this summer and has not looked back.
While studying, Toby lived with his fiancé and juggled two part time jobs, one at a retailer and his other job involved working with disabled children. Towards the end of his degree Toby became a health and wellbeing ambassador which then led to him to becoming a gym manager.
After a few years of working in the health industry, Toby progressed onto starting his own wellness business, all while studying his degree with Arden.
Toby’s course was taught via Arden’s bespoke online learning model – meaning all his lectures and seminars were online.
Toby said: “It’s a great way to study if you’re looking for flexibility. It was challenging to balance a full-time job with my degree but once I was in a routine, it was much easier to manage everything. Online learning has actually helped me become very good with time management and gave me the ability to prioritise tasks.”
Toby explained: “The degree itself looks great on my CV and actually gives me that added confidence to believe in myself. Being able to achieve this degree despite not having GCSE’s or A-Levels has given me a real boost. I’m looking forward to growing my business into a successful franchise and I’m also planning on starting my GCSE’s later this year. You are never too old to return to education.
Toby explains his own personal education journey and how Arden was able to help.
“During High School, I didn’t have a very good experience and left with no qualifications as I left midway through my final year. I completely lost interest in learning. Looking back, my negative outlook on education and never being encouraged to study, resulted in my never making my studies a priority. I also blame myself for not trying harder.
“However, after having a few years break from education I started studying an adult course in fitness instructing, followed by completing an NVQ Level 2 in English, maths and customer service.”
Toby added: ''Both my parents were cleaners and never encouraged me to study. They wanted me to be a cleaner, I soon realised that just wasn't for me. And It wasn't until I came back to the UK, in my early 20s, that I considered returning to education. I thought I was too old.”
During Toby's younger years, education was viewed as something that wasn't for him as he isn't from an ‘academic background’. Toby also explained that he had negative views on teachers and tutors and it wasn’t until he returned to education he realised how helpful tutors are and the genuine care they have for their students.
However the harsh reality of many employers looking for educational qualifications meant that Toby felt that to progress his career he needed to return to education.
“I knew a business management degree would help me with starting my own business. Something I had thought about starting in 2014 and would regularly discuss this end-goal with my friend and now business partner, Simon. Back then we didn’t know how to materialise our ideas – however, years later and with my university degree under my belt, we are able to successfully run our fitness business: Diamond & Bradley.”
Toby’s company is an online service which specialises in personalised plans for weight loss, muscle building and overall health and well-being.