Graduate blog – Claire’s Story

Looking back, I never believed I would graduate on the Foundation Degree let alone continue to this higher level on the BA hons top up.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, absolutely.

You have got to want to do your course, motivation and passion for your subject is paramount to success. Time management is really important too, be realistic with how much time you have each week to study and pull in support if you start to consistently compromise this. My husband worked away for the majority of the FD and Top-up, I worked full time and have two busy children. Life is tough to balance, but organise yourself, make those lists, use a planner, set deadlines and put in the time and research. I constantly found myself waiting at a dance class or football training, googling and tweeting information which could be useful and emailing it to myself to refer to, later.


Believe in yourself, success is perseverance; it means rising to the occasion; it means pulling through when times are really tough and having those late nights to meet a deadline. It can also mean recognising when you are frustrated and have writers block and are procrastinating. I often stalled at a point, rewriting the same paragraph over and over because it wasn’t quite right. To the point where it was best to walk away, sometimes for 24/48 hours and have a complete rethink. Jot down new ideas, go back to your learning outcomes this period of reflection does help, resuming with a fresh perspective and the enthusiasm to carry on! Don’t forget the essential study resources, a large table, post-it’s, books everywhere, water, caffeine, fruit and treats all on hand at the same time!

The most important advice I could give, is to take that first step. Having enrolled on the courses, I sat in the car park saying to myself “think of a reason not to go in” But I couldn’t convince myself. I walked through the doors, saw a face which had the same panic-stricken look as me and ventured towards that person and have not looked back since. Both girls were an endless circle of support for me and us all for each other. We set up a whatsapp group to rebound ideas, share books and links, vent frustrations and celebrate our successes at “turning it in” and we are still close friends now.

I was very privileged to have 2 of the best tutors on the FD and BA Hons in Gill Leech and Francesca Cornwall. Their encouragement, insightful approach to teaching are well worth getting up for in the morning. You can ask them anything, there are no daft questions and they were always available on the day to hand out advice and via their emails. They were truly dedicated to our success, key to getting me through the good and the bad in this often very emotional, stressful, yet amazing journey!

Claire Smith BA Hons – First Class no less!