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'This is the best thing I have ever done.' Mature student, Anna Clark, shares her story

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In October 2014, on the off chance, I called into my local university and it just so happened there was an open day on. I spoke to a lovely man who reassured me that if I wanted to enrol, I could, despite having two young children. I remember him telling me: ‘it won’t be easy, but you can do it, because I did.’ That year I chickened out. It was so easy to keep everything the same and not embrace the change. I consoled myself that the young man had a wife at home who could look after his children, but I regretted my decision, and so, the next year I went to the open day again. I found out as much as I could and applied to UCAS. I remember thinking that it was challenging to apply because I had been a stay-at-home mum for seven years and had no confidence. UCAS made the application simple and you could save it and go back, which I did many times. I was delighted to receive an offer and accepted it straightaway. This was just the start of my journey.

I turned up on the first day apprehensive that I would be the oldest person there, after all, university is for young people isn’t it? There were other mature students there, some older than me, some younger, some from other counties, and some from other countries. I was accepted in like all the rest. It had been a long time since I’d had real friends since having my children. Friends you talk to on a daily basis and share life and troubles with. Those I found at university. It is almost certainly the first thing I hear in the morning, the ping of a message from a friend asking when I’m getting into university. The first few weeks you may struggle with tiredness, I’m not going to lie. I certainly wasn’t used to using my brain all day, but that soon changes, and it’s not long before I started to notice things I’d achieved that I never would have dreamed of before. I’m now a second-year law student going into third year, trying to become a barrister. My grades are good, and my friendships are strong. I am Mooting President of the Law Society here, where I arrange mooting workshops for the first years and take part in mooting competitions. I have been Second Year Law Rep this year, sitting in on staff and student liaison meetings and campaigning for module changes. I have achieved three mini-pupillages with chambers, and I volunteer with a charity which supports people going into court without representation. It is such a fantastic experience. All of these things and more are possible, with children or without, and at any age. Now heading into my final year, I am looking ahead to doing my BPTC and Pupillage.

I have achieved a lot during the last two years, which I never would have achieved if I hadn’t found the confidence to apply. I am so proud of all the things I’ve done, but the thing that has changed the most is my confidence. This is the best thing I have ever done. Please don’t hesitate for a second, jump in.