I’m really excited this evening because tomorrow, I will join the growing number of adults who have enrolled in a course of study through Open Universities Australia (OUA). It’s a dream come true for me, a chance to finish what I started 20 years ago when I first enrolled at university.
Although the path to higher education is well travelled by others who were the first in their immediate family to go to university. My family was anything but proud. In fact, they were dead set against it.
Why? Well, from what I can gather, they were afraid I would drift away to some distant northern suburb of Sydney, never to be heard from again. As my step-father said to me at the time, “You’ll think you’re too good for us. You won’t want to talk to us anymore.”
But my family need not have worried, although I was born with an above average IQ, I was still a working class girl who grew up in a public housing estate. A place where babies are born to unwed teenagers with low self-esteem and an insatiable appetite for unconditional love. A place where despair hangs so heavy in the air that you can smell it along with the stench of stale tobacco and alcohol. In such a place there is only one means of escape – education. But beware of the road blocks (some of your own making) on your way to the exit.
I was 18 when I gave birth to my first child. Three years later I married and a month after my 22nd birthday I gave birth to my second child. At 23 I completed the Tertiary Preparation Certificate at the Campbelltown College of TAFE and the following year I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Sydney. I dropped out after one semester because by this stage, my marriage had broken down. The following year I enrolled at the University of Sydney but again, I dropped out after only one semester. For the next seven years I went back and forth between university study and paid work. I even attempted to study at university whilst working full-time and raising two young children on my own – talk about mission impossible!
I finally had to admit defeat ten years after I began and from that day to this, my ambition in regards to higher education has been gathering dust on the shelf.
Now the kids are grown, it’s time to dust off my dreams. I’ve got my text books, I’ve received the email advising that my study materials are on their way and I’m determined to get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow is the first day of Study Period 1 2012.
If you’re starting university tomorrow or returning for another year, I wish for you a successful year of study and may all your road blocks be small and inconsequential 🙂
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