Name: Richard Wing
Subject: LLB Qualifying Law Degree

Name: Richard Wing
Subject: LLB Qualifying Law Degree

I’ve wanted to be a solicitor for a long time and there is no way I can do that without a degree. I’m also fascinated by the law and justice; it’s a hard subject and I like a challenge.

I hit 40 and was having a think about my life. I’ve always wanted to have a degree and thought – now’s the time! I felt like I had unfinished business.

Why did you choose to study online?

With the cost of Higher Education, I couldn’t afford to give up my work; by studying online I can work full time and do a full time degree. Now I work from 8am-2pm on my business and then work 2-9pm on my degree; I can fit a lot into the day and have time for my family too.

My nearest university is at least an hour’s drive away, so the commute would mean I wouldn’t be able to work or see my family as well as attending lectures and studying. By ‘going to’ university online, I can fit learning around me, rather than being dictated by a rigid timetable – which is very useful if you have to work or have family commitments. I wouldn’t be able to study for a degree if I couldn’t do it online.

So why do a degree now?

I’ve wanted to be a solicitor for a long time and there is no way I can do that without a degree. I’m also fascinated by the law and justice; it’s a hard subject and I like a challenge.

I hit 40 and was having a think about my life. I’ve always wanted to have a degree and thought – now’s the time! I felt like I had unfinished business.

Is an online course user friendly?

Very! I do most of my learning interaction on my tablet – watching webinars, participating in student forums, emailing or Skyping my tutors and looking at course materials. When I have essays to write, I do all of those on my computer and just send them over digitally when I’m done.

Online is so convenient and fits in around me – I can email my tutor about a problem I’m having with an essay at midnight and I know I’ll get a response straight to my inbox the next day.

What’s been challenging for you?

When you haven’t studied for a long time, getting back into writing in an academic style can be quite hard. However, my tutors have been amazing and have guided me through the process. Every time I’ve needed them, they’ve been there; they’ve given me pointers and advice at every step.

In addition, Arden has student forums where all the students on my course come together and participate in activities and discussions. It’s been really useful because you can pitch in and help each other out. You can also read past examples of how people have answered questions, which is a massive help when writing essays.

It’s also a confidence boost; when you think you’re struggling and realise other people are finding it as hard as you, you realise you’re not the only one. Usually we all work together to come up with a solution; the feeling of camaraderie and teamwork is really positive.

Do you find the lack of physical classroom an issue with work planning?

Not at all, having had my own successful businesses means I’m quite disciplined, but having instant access to student forums and tutor support has also helped a great deal.

What did your family and friends make of your decision to go back to studying?

As I made my mind up so quickly (in about two weeks) I think there was a little bit of shock on their part, especially from my parents, but they’ve been nothing but supportive.

I’m known for making big changes very quickly, so I’m sure it came of no surprise, especially as getting a degree and becoming a solicitor has been a desire of mine for a while. A lot of my friends have even said I’d make a very good solicitor, which is great!

I think the fact that I’m still running the business while studying shows my family how hard I’m working and how much I want this. They’re very supportive and leave me alone to work if I need it, bringing me cups of tea when I need them, and are very interested in what I’m doing.

Is this your first experience of higher education?

No, I started a Combined Science Studies degree at Manchester Metropolitan University after getting my A-levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry. However, the course didn’t suit me and I decided to leave after six months.

When choosing my A-levels I didn’t get good careers advice from my school; I didn’t realise that by taking all science based subjects, that it would limit me when it came to university. If I’d known I couldn’t sit for a humanities subject, I would have chosen my A-levels very differently.

Did not having a degree hold you back?

Initially no, I went straight into car sales and as a 19-year-old it was the best thing I could have done. I learnt a lot about communicating with people and got to drive brand new cars as part of my job.

After a couple of years, I found that I hit a level, so moved to Bristol to work as a computer consultant, working all the way from the call centre to becoming a senior consultant. Then at 29 I had a complete change of heart and decided to open a pizza restaurant in South Devon – as I love pizza – and cooked, ran the restaurant and managed ten staff by myself.

Seven years ago I’d had enough of the long nights, especially as it meant I was missing out on valuable family time, so I set up a sign writing and graphic design business, which is what I do today.

Where will you go from here?

I’ve already secured a volunteer internship with a local law firm and will be going in to learn about law in practice once I have completed a few more modules. In time I hope to become specialised in commercial and property law, which is in demand down here in South Devon and luckily, something that really interests me. I made sure I chose a course that would give me the qualifications I needed to get a job at the end of it.

What’s your advice for people who want to go back to university, but think they can’t?

Do it! Life is short and you’re the only one who can make your dreams come true.

Now studying has become so flexible and affordable online, you really don’t have an excuse. Whether it’s to find out more about something you enjoy, get ahead at work or to change career like me – there’s an option out there for everyone. It’s now so easy to fit studying into your life.

Discipline is a big thing, so make sure you explain to your family what you are doing and what support you need. Also make sure you set up a study area for yourself. And lastly, make use of the facilities on offer – I always participate in the forums and webinars, you learn a lot and you make great friends too.

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