When Ffion from Cardiff dropped out of college at 17, she felt a door slam shut on her education. That was until she discovered The Open University and an untapped love of learning. Eight years on and Ffion, now 26, is studying towards a degree in Business Management and looking forward to a successful career at the helm of her own company.
“I never liked school when I was younger and university was never my thing,” says Ffion. “I gained GCSEs and I did start college. But I had to drop out, as I became a mum. I have a seven-year-old daughter called Daisy, who I had when I was 17. I want her to grow up to believe that anything is possible, regardless of your position in life.”
Ffion had already climbed several rungs of the ladder to become a Mortgage Administration Associate and knew a degree would help her to go even further.
“Now my daughter is a bit older it has been nice to focus more on myself and my career,” explains Ffion. “I chose the OU because I want to progress myself in my career and it’s a degree that employers really value.
“I had been considering the OU for a year or so before I finally took the plunge. Now I’ve enrolled I don’t feel as much pressure as I did when I was younger, I’ve realised how fun learning can be.”
Studying through a pandemic has been no mean feat, but Ffion knows there is plenty of support available to help her succeed.
“My tutors have been fantastic and are available pretty much whenever they’re needed. And whenever I’ve spoken to Student Services they’ve been fantastic too, offering drop-in sessions for our tutor groups and personal phone calls to check how we are doing. I know I’m not alone.
“The OU community is huge. Even though we study at home, it feels like one big family.”
Ffion also has the backing of her employer: “My manager was impressed when I said I was studying for a degree. I haven’t needed any practical support yet however I know there is support available.”
“Having a full-time job whilst being a mum and studying can be difficult,” says Ffion. “I would be lying if I said I hadn’t felt like giving up. But when you receive your tutor marked assignment, which has a great score and great detailed feedback, it makes you feel on top of the world.
“Although it can be tough some days, I know that when I graduate and I get to walk up onto that stage I will feel so proud of myself. All the hard work, the assessments and the exams will be so worth it.”
A far cry from the young mum who thought her education was over for good, Ffion’s ambitions are now bolder than ever.
Has the OU changed me as a person? Yes definitely. I can do anything, and I have only just realised that since starting at the OU. I’ve gained a lot more self-confidence. I want to run my own business in the future.
“I think the OU will help my career by giving me more knowledge for future roles in business and will look fantastic on my CV.
“My message to anyone thinking about studying with the OU is do it. Please don’t let your confidence or life commitments keep you from applying. It is never too late to study.”
Ffion is part of The Open University's new ‘Stories of Ambition’ campaign, which showcases four inspiring students who have the ambition to change their lives through the OU. Discover what it’s been like for them to study at the OU and watch their videos now at Stories of Ambition.