By Simon Frankland, BA(Hons) Football Business & Media student at UCFB Wembley

As some of you may be aware I recently left my job to become a mature student. This was not a decision I took lightly but a decision I feel was the correct one.

Becoming a mature student was a very difficult decision. I was a deputy manager for a pub and sadly fell out of love with the job. The unsociable hours, late finishes and a very stressful work environment slowly led to me being unhappy and it was ultimately not something I could continue doing. “Why do this job if you hate it so much?” I was asked this a lot and although hospitality can be a very challenging industry to work in, it really does have many positives. You have the opportunity to meet a wide range of people, people you spend a lot of time with and I for one have made friends for life. Also, getting recognition and praise from customers and colleagues is that much more meaningful when you know how much effort was put into your work.

I was put into positions that forced me to step out of my comfort zones on many occasions and this helped me become the person I am today. There a was a long period of time where I genuinely lived my job and anyone that works in a bar will agree that it doesn’t matter how busy it is, if everyone is working hard and enjoying the shift it’s great fun. There are also many great perks within the industry; getting to know people working in other bars is a real plus and there are some great discounts in some places!

I haven’t left the company as I do still work part time on Friday and Saturday nights and although the late nights aren’t ideal I plan to continue doing this for now.

Now onto the reason I’m here at Wembley: higher education! I am currently studying Football Business & Media at UCFB and although I am only 5 weeks in, I absolutely love it and am very excited for what my future holds. UCFB specialises in sports-focused degrees and is the first institution of its kind in the world. Those that know me well are fully aware how much I love football and my keen interest in media. I feel I’m doing something I can really get my teeth into and am surrounded by constant motivators to succeed.

The first few weeks weren’t the most ideal and, being a mature student, I was wary of how I’d fit in with a much younger crowd. It was for this reason that I decided to stay in a three person flat rather than a single person studio so the transition would be smoother; unfortunately I was on my own for the first two weeks though. I didn’t go out and make friends in halls as I thought I’d have people living with me and I didn’t want to be the creepy older guy knocking on peoples doors. Now that I have flatmates and got to know the people on my course I feel a lot more settled and any initial worries are now gone.

One of our units on the course looks at how to set up for life in higher education and has focused on reflection which has been key for me in the last few weeks and has helped me realise why I’m here and what my goals are moving forward. I work around 20-25 hours a week and with lectures covering about 14 hours a week, this gives me enough spare time to reflect and plan the sort of student and person I want to be. I feel my past experiences have really given me a strong work ethic and maturity to really understand my goals better.

Higher education isn’t for everyone and I think there are many factors to be considered before becoming a student; choosing the right institution, the right location, the right living situation, and most importantly having a clear understanding of why higher education is the correct path forward. These were all factors I considered and I feel it’s been the correct decision. Living with others was a must for me and I wanted to live local to my campus. Being a huge football fan and living within walking distance of Wembley stadium is a huge motivator for why I’m here. My passion for football and a desire to get into the media industry makes my lectures more interesting and I don’t see getting out of bed as a chore as I’m very happy to be learning on my course.

I reflect a lot and doing blog posts like this is a really helpful way of doing this. It helps me clear my mind and focus on what’s important. After just a few week’s in higher education I have started blogging, done a podcast with plans to do more, and I will also be doing a vlog, with plans to present a few projects also in the pipeline. These are things that I didn’t consider before coming to UCFB but they are now very viable options.

Higher education isn’t cheap and I will leave with mountains of debt, but is it a debt or is it an investment in my future? I certainly look at it as the latter. I am paying for the privilege to learn and grow at an incredible institution and I feel the work I do outside lectures will be just as influential as the work I do inside lectures. I am here to build my own personal brand and in doing business and media this is vital to help break into the industry. There is plenty I can achieve whilst studying and I have no intentions to hold back.

There are many that really struggle in higher education and I will probably have my fair share of struggles moving forward; staying positive and motivated is easier said than done but it is possible!

If you’re struggling about a deadline, bored of lectures, struggling for motivation, or have personal problems, take a step back and picture your graduation day: Are you happy with your final grade? Are you walking on stage proud of your achievements? Are your family proud of what you have achieved? Will you get the career you dreamed of?

Reflection is key and higher education is an opportunity to be the best you. Make it count.

Most importantly – SMILE.

This article was first published by Simon Frankland on his personal blog.