Tuesday, 23 October 2007

My fellow students

I think I've mentioned that there are about 35 students doing the four year Master of Nutrition course that I'm on. Most of the time we're sharing lectures with a hundred others who are doing 'ordinary' Nutrition, Environmental Biology, Microbiology, Agricultural Science, Biochemistry, Food Science and so on. We have one session to ourselves to do Dietetic-related things, and I find that I still don't recognise about half of those present. There are a few who I hang out with, and unsurprisingly we are the older ones and people not living on campus, because we don't have rooms to hide in and we tend to hang around in the cafe and library, and get to lectures early.

These mature students have reached this course in all sorts of ways: changing from unsatisfying employment, poor choice of degree first time round, divorce, full employment, an interest in food, FE science degree access courses. One or two are married, some have children, some have actually bought local property and moved to Nottingham. After just three weeks of lectures, most of them seem to be going through a crisis of confidence at the moment.

I'm half supportive and half exasperated: you've beaten off the stiff competition for places: surely it makes sense to keep going beyond three weeks? Nottingham academics have confidence in your ability: that should count for something, shouldn't it? Is it just typically British females whose first thought is "All these other people must be cleverer than me, I just can't do it" rather than "I'm just as good as them, and age and maturity are on my side"? I wish some of them had overheard the youngster asking the lecturer today how to conduct a search for some information about her essay topic, when a draft is supposed to be handed in in two days' time. My older friends have been researching since the moment they were told their essay title.

And yet I remember halfway through my degree first time round I went to my personal tutor and suggested that Engineering wasn't such a good idea for me. I wonder now what would have happened if he'd considered the idea seriously rather then pouring cold water on the idea of changing to another course.

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