At the time of publishing this blog post, I am 29 years young. I’ve had a ton of jobs, and switched around careers a bit. This also means, I’ve been to a few colleges – and university once. However, I didn’t go to my graduation.
I left school after 5th year (which is year 12 in England, and junior year in high school in USA). It is only compulsory to stay in school until you are 16 in Scotland. I was desperate to get out of school, I wanted to work and earn some money – but I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
I completed an Administration HNC at college, and went on to work in clerical and admin support for several years. This allowed me a great deal of flexibility, as I was able to pick up temp and agency work. Ideal for when I was sauntering off to work in the USA every summer from 2009-2012!
After a temp job for my local council went permanent, I panicked slightly and decided I wanted a different career. I had always considered nursing, but wasn’t willing to commit to 3-4 years at university. So I applied for an HNC in Healthcare at college, and figured I would make a decision once that was over.
Thankfully, I absolutely LOVED college. My lecturers were fantastic, really interesting and helpful. I was also lucky enough to be offered an unconditional place in nursing at university when my course finished. This was through an interview assessment the college had arranged, the whole class was guaranteed an interview and I think there was 2 places.
I’d like to discuss my experience with studying nursing in another post, so I’m going to skip this part altogether. I will say – nursing is hard. The course is very time consuming and tough, we do roughly 40 hour placement weeks, while trying to study and hold down part time jobs.
At the start of 2014 – with the course end date looming – I started looking for jobs. My friend told me about a hospital in Bristol, which was hiring newly qualified staff to start in October. So I applied and was invited for interview. From what I remember, my interview was in April and I was offered a job shortly after.
The next few months flew by, in a whirlwind of essays, final placements (and a little bit of new romance). It was September before I knew it, and I needed to accept or reject the job. With my new man in tow, we moved down to Bristol at the end of October 2014.
I believe graduation was in the November, and I briefly considered flying home to attend. However, if I’m completely truthful – I never wanted to go to graduation.
It initially sounded like a really fun, exciting day! Get dressed up in the gowns and caps, stand up in front of your classmates and proudly accept your degree. Then of course, the graduation ball. It turns out, it’s expensive to graduate. I never realised you need to pay for the gown and cap hire, plus the grad ball is expensive – not including a new outfit and probably hair and makeup. I was skint.
Moving down south wasn’t going to be cheap, and living off part time wages is difficult. Though the bottom line was – I didn’t want to go to graduation! I didn’t feel like I needed to validate my efforts with all the frills and fuss. The cost only sealed my decision.
I graduated – in absence – in 2014. The lovely Bristolian post man shared my special moment with me as I signed for my degree. He laughed at me as I screeched in delight (I was still proud of myself after all) and told him about my special envelope. I still had to pay £40 to graduate, I’m assuming it was an administration fee.
For 1 year at college and 3 years at university, I worked harder than I ever had before. There was moments I wanted to quit – I even went as far as to tell my personal tutor I was leaving, but she luckily talked me out of it. The social side of being a nursing student is very different to other courses. We don’t get the same holidays, and we move around on work placements for several weeks at a time. So you don’t spend 3 years getting to know your classmates, and enjoying nights out!
I don’t regret missing graduation or my grad ball. My parents didn’t mind, as long as I was happy. In my eyes – I saved money, achieved the same result and feel just as proud of myself. I love being a nurse and that’s what matters most to me.