Twenty-nine-year-old Jenni Wilson is a fourth year BA (Hons) Education Studies student. Before coming to Queen Margaret University, she worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland. She didn’t really enjoy her previous job, but a trip to a local school to teach children about money management was the catalyst for change. It was her interactions with the school pupils that whet her appetite for a career in teaching, and she made plans to return to education to pursue her career goal.
After attending a S.W.A.P course at Edinburgh College, she enrolled at QMU in the BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary) course. Halfway through her third year, Jenni realised she wanted her course to offer a broader range of subjects and switched to the BA (Hons) Education Studies course, which she believed would give her more scope to work in different education roles in the future.
Jenni tells us more about her unique journey to QMU, what studying is like as a mature student and what to expect from the different Education Studies courses:
Name, Age and Course Title:
Jenni Wilson, 29, Education Studies BA (Hons) 4th year of study
What were you doing before you came to QMU?
I worked at the Royal Bank of Scotland. I was doing ATM operations and Business Analysis work. As part of RBS, we had an initiative where people can volunteer to go into schools and teach children about money.
I hated working in a bank so I took whatever chance I could to get out of my normal day-to-day. I went to teach kids about money once and I completely fell in love with it.
From that moment I realised I wanted to do teaching. I completed a S.W.A.P course at Edinburgh College before coming here and I haven’t looked back since.
Why did you choose QMU?
As a result of the S.W.A.P course I went to at Edinburgh college, I had a more limited number of universities I could apply to. I was offered a place at Queen Margaret University and at Stirling University. Since Primary Education was a new course at QMU, I really wanted to see what it was offering, so I decided to come here.
I also heard that QMU had a lot of mature students - It has been ten years since I’d been to school and I found it quite daunting. However, knowing that there were going to be lots of other mature students at QMU made my decision really easy.
The other mature students I have spoken to all said really good things and I thought I would fit in better at QMU than I might at another university.
Why did you choose this course?
I switched courses halfway through my degree from BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary) to BA (Hons) Education Studies.
When I decided to switch I was half-way through my third year. I realised my current course wasn’t for me, but I didn’t want to leave without anything to show for all my work.
I switched over to Education Studies and, honestly, I wish I had done it from the beginning. It gives me such a broad range of knowledge. You still learn about Primary Education but you also get a lot of other really useful information.
What have you enjoyed most about education studies?
Our year group is very small. There are maybe 20 of us on the course so it’s really nice to get to know everyone. The course itself is also really varied but it’s still all relevant. There’s so much you can do with degree once you have it, you can go into a lot of different fields - everything you are learning could be relevant.
"We also get more contact time with teachers during the Education Studies specific modules. There is more 1-2-1 time with lecturers, and you can really build good relationships with them. They know how we learn, and we know how they teach. That’s something that just wouldn’t be possible with a bigger class size."
What have been your highlights at QMU?
The Big Bang. It’s a big party at the end of April. It’s a great opportunity for all the students to let their hair down and celebrate the end of term. It’s held outside the main academic building on University Square. There are drink stalls and Maggie's (the Students’ Union café bar) opens its doors as a part of the event. It’s such a fun event.
Unfortunately, because of Covid, we missed the first two years. However, last year we went along, and it was so much fun. I am really advocating for it this year - I'm asking everyone I see whether they are going.
Making friends has been another highlight. I think I have made friends here that will genuinely be for life.
Did you access any of the support services?
I have used the counselling service here at QMU and the staff really helped me. I had a meltdown one day and one of my friends, who has used them previously, said she would go and speak to the counselling team. That afternoon, I had an email from the QMU Wellbeing team for an appointment the next day.
It was a very fast turnaround, and when you are in that meltdown moment, one of the barriers to getting help is wondering how long it takes to get an appointment. Having a response from the team so quickly was really helpful.
What advice would you give to someone coming to this course?
Keep an open mind. In Education Studies, your first year works very closely with Primary Education Studies but it does split up eventually and you will start to branch out into other areas.
Even in my fourth year, I walk into the building and think “I can’t believe I’m at University”. I imagine for a lot of mature students it can be quite daunting because you assume university students are going to be really young, but that’s not true. There are lots of other mature students - especially at QMU.
What are your plans following graduation?
I think I am trying to keep my options open. There is so many different avenues I can go down with this degree so I want to see what options I have and what would work best for me, but I am excited about what the future holds.