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Sam White

Certificate of Higher Education. Introductory Studies

'I work at Harrods and often work 60 hours a week.  This isn’t something I want to be doing in 20 years time so when I saw an advert for Birkbeck on the train I started to think that maybe this is something that I could do. I went to an open evening and took away as much information as I could. I was quite over whelmed with the choice that Birkbeck had to offer but finally chose the right course for me.

'I have used my qualification to go on to do a BSc in social science, majoring in anthropology, at Birkbeck. I would like to do an MSc in psychosocial studies and then perhaps a PhD. I love studying at Birkbeck and even though it’s tough going to lectures after having been at work all day I know that Birkbeck will open doors for me. The teaching is great and long term I will use it to change my career.  I’ve looked at my life and thought what could I do to better it and maximise my prospects - that’s the road I’m on.

'At school I enjoyed doing performing arts and stage work and at 18 I decided that instead of going into academia I would go to drama school. Although I did well it is tough to make a living from it. I got a job at Harrods but decided that I wanted to study something that I could use to give me a career rather than just a job. I found that I thoroughly enjoy studying – I like writing essays, I love reading books and articles. While the job market is as it is I may as well continue to study. 

'Preparation is the key for me and doing the certificate was a perfect preparation for degree study. The level of teaching was consistently good. I was extremely daunted by going back in to a classroom but the tutors really know where their pupils have come from and they offer appropriate support. There was a great variety of people on the course and that was fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed the different point of view we all had. We had lively discussions based on everyone’s individual experience. People are there because they want to be there and therefore they get that much more from their studies.

'I liked the fact it was a modular course. It meant I could try it and see if I liked it before committing myself to a qualification. Initially I thought I wanted to do a degree in psychology but having a chance to try a range of things was great for me and I changed my mind about the direction I wanted to go in. Anthropology has always been in the back of my mind and now I can work towards doing this.  Just going straight on to a degree would not have been appropriate for me – I had no foundation when it came to writing essays, how to read and research things. Doing the certificate was a great starting point for me and it also introduced me to Birkbeck. I have now been able to go directly on to the second year of my degree and doing my certificate was great preparation for this.

'I liked the fact it was part-time evening study because it fitted in well with my work commitments. I have always felt comfortable coming here. The fact it is a College that offers evening study made me feel that this is something that I can do – it’s a big challenge working and studying at the same time but Birkbeck makes this possible. It takes a lot, mentally and physically, to work and study but the support at Birkbeck is fantastic.

'I wanted a positive, interactive evening class and I enjoyed the variety of teaching and the academic discipline. The tutors were very supportive of the fact that I was trying to juggle a lot of things. I always felt that they were aware that you have a life outside and that you have other responsibilities. They know that you have made this choice so they positively push you in a direction of success. They highlight the possibilities and make you look at how you can give the most to your studies as well as to your job and your home life. They inspired me to go further.
I used the library and computer rooms on a regular basis. It was fantastic to be able to have consistent contact with the materials that the library has to offer via my iPad. Birkbeck understands that you need to be able to access things at any time and adapts to suit your needs.

'Ideally I would like to work for Birkbeck student services – Bloomsbury is a lovely environment and Birkbeck itself is a great place to be.
Doing the course has improved my confidence and my belief in myself and in continuing education – I would recommend it highly to friends and family and to any one who has a busy working life or who has family commitments. As the current economic climate worsens and the prospect of job losses proves inevitable, I can only recommend Birkbeck for anyone who is thinking of going back in to studying and to rediscovering one’s passion for learning at an affordable rate.

'For me evening study was the only option because I have to be able to work as well. I can’t afford full-time university. However, there’s this place called Birkbeck which offers evening classes, has fantastic facilities and is just around the corner from places like the British Library - it’s a no brainer. Once I started I thought 'I’m going to stay here for a while!'

Find out more about Higher Education introductory courses.

'The tutors were very supportive of the fact that I was trying to juggle a lot of things.'