No regrets

Sandra Edmunds in the field

Parasitology/nematology PhD student Sandra Edmunds talks about the advantages of being a mature student and recalls her motivation and concerns when she made the big decision to give up her career to return to education as a Biology undergraduate

It’s April and spring is finally here as I walk to the Byrom Street campus on a sunny morning. April also means exams are looming for undergraduates and cramming in as much revision as possible. I’m a postgraduate doing a PhD in parasitology/nematology so I don’t have exams to worry about any more but I remember the foreboding exam season brought with it all too well.

I started at LJMU on a Biology BSc in 2011 when I was already classed as a mature student and have stayed on to do my PhD here too. And by mature I mean recently passed a milestone birthday with a zero. When I first started I did have some reservations; on my first day we were filling in forms and the student sitting next to me put his DoB as the same year I did my GCSEs, and I have had lecturers who are younger than me. However, there were quite a few other mature students in my cohort and we gravitated towards each other – we are still good friends to this day.

Being a mature student brings its own challenges, affordability being a big one. Before I returned to continue my education I had a pretty good job in London so there was a big wage drop and a relocation to consider: how would I fund myself without being able to work full-time? I tried working part-time at my job in London, which I was lucky enough to be able to do – one day a week in the office and the rest of my part-time hours at home – but that weekly commute was financially draining and eventually it wasn’t really viable, so I took the plunge and left my job. Liverpool’s a very affordable city, and there are lots of opportunities to work that fit with being a student. I eventually got a job that paid quite well where I only had to work in the weekday evenings and it was geared specifically for students, so I put my time management skills to good use to fit in coursework, lectures and a paying job.

I have found as a mature student that you are more dedicated to what you are doing, and the time you have spent away from education means you build up a set of skills and experience that are invaluable as a student, such as being able to analyse what information is relevant from large swathes of text, good report-writing skills and of course good time-keeping, plus I’m much less likely to be suffering after a night out! In short you are the type of student that universities want and lecturers love to have in their classes.

You might be asking, why, if I had a good job in London did I want to go to university and one 200 miles away from where I lived and worked? Well, those were questions I asked myself quite often as an undergrad when I was in the library, trying to get my statistics right, out doing field work in the rain and wind, or under pressure at exam season and thinking ‘Why have I subjected myself to this?’.

The answer is that regardless of the different pressures it beats working in a job you don’t enjoy! I didn’t have a job I loved, so deciding to take the plunge and work towards a future in a field that I was passionate and enthusiastic about was a decision that I have no regrets about at all.

Find out more about returning to education or contact the Outreach team on / 0151 904 6384/6385 / @LJMUOutreach. For information on biology and related courses visit the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology.


Thousands of LJMU graduates celebrated at March ceremonies


Third generation of family graduates from LJMU


Get in touch

Have feedback or an idea for a blog? Email us at