What it’s like to return to learning as an adult

08 July 2022

Adult learner taking part in an online seminar on their laptop
Adult learning
Type: Text
Category: Studying

When I first went to university it was 2008. I was 18 and it was my first time living away from home. I was armed with some glitter gel pens, a questionable fashion sense and a jumbo pack of condoms.

Fast forward to 2021 and I was just about to start a part-time online master’s in Comedy Writing. This time, ironically, thanks to the pandemic I was living with my parents. I had a laptop instead of glitter gel pens, a different questionable fashion sense and probably the same box of condoms somewhere, this time well past their sell by date. 

Instead of 18, I was now 31 and going back to “school”. It’s daunting going back into education when you haven’t written academically for about 10 years. Yes, the master’s I chose is all about writing funny characters and situations, but there are also formal essays and the dreaded Harvard referencing.  

I decided to return to studying for multiple reasons. I had started doing stand-up comedy a few years previously which I loved, but I wanted to write longer scripts - yet I had no clue how or where to start. Also, when the pandemic hit, all my creative outlets (performing in grimy pub basements to an audience of two) dried up, and like a digital saviour the advert for this Comedy Writing course popped up in my time of need. 

The online nature of the course appealed. Firstly because it was during a pandemic, so it had to be. But also, the Comedy Writing course is designed that way, so every aspect’s been considered. Secondly, I was working full-time. While I wanted to follow my dreams as a writer, I also have bills and rent to pay, and this master's degree is designed to fit around full-time workers, people with families or people who prefer to take their time over it. Thirdly, I was living in Kent, so the commute to Falmouth might have been a tad too long.  

I can only speak for myself, but the community is ironically tightknit for the fact we are scattered all over the world and most of us have never met in the flesh.

I had my concerns before the course, just like anyone returning to study would have. Firstly, there’s the cost of higher education. However, Falmouth have a lot of support for this - things like bursaries and grants to help people out. I was also worried I’d be much older than everyone on the course with everyone else having come straight from their undergraduate study. It turns out, part time online master’s appeal to people who haven’t studied for a while, and I discovered that luckily, I’m still a young whippersnapper.  

Even though the Comedy Writing course is delivered fully online, I feel like I have more contact time with my tutors and course leader than I did with my undergraduate course. OK, that may have been down to spending most of my time and money in the SU bar but with an online course there are so many ways to get support. 

On my course we have a course tutor who we can contact via email, and we also have two one-on-one sessions each module. We also have the course leader who we can contact, and group drop-in sessions twice a week. I tend to go as often as I can to get questions answered and to hear my course mates’ questions. What’s useful is there’s a morning and an evening session; so depending on your lifestyle, it works for most people. However, I choose to join as much as possible, but if you’ve got things going on, the tutors are always approachable to arrange a chat at another time.  

I can only speak for myself, but the community is ironically tightknit for the fact we are scattered all over the world and most of us have never met in the flesh. Right at the start our course leader recommended setting up WhatsApp groups to get to know each other, and now I’m a part of about three university-related WhatsApp groups. I’ve met up for drinks with people from my course, been on the same stand-up gig as another and even started a podcast with the group I worked with on one of my modules (it’s called Comedy Convictions, I know you were wondering). The course really is what you make of it, so you don’t have to get involved if my eagerness sends shivers down your spine, but you can if you want to.  

Things like this are why I’d recommend the course to other people who haven’t studied in a while. And it does genuinely set you up for a career in the industry. One year into the course I was able to snag a great job in comedy writing which I wouldn’t have been able to do without having done the course and without the support of my course leader and tutor.  

So, if you’re interested in being an adult learner, all I can say is pack away those glitter gel pens and do it! 

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