Jen To, aged, 30, an international student from Hong Kong, is graduating this July from the University of Northampton’s Early Childhood Studies course. She took the time to tell us about her experience here at the University of Northampton…
“I came to visit Northampton the April before I was due to start at University, I had the opportunity to meet the academic team for the Early Childhood Studies programme; Eunice, Claire and Perry – I clicked with them instantly. After looking around the facilities, I knew that the University of Northampton was somewhere I would call home for three years.
“The staff at the university were really helpful throughout my application process; I was lucky enough to have been offered an international scholarship which made coming to study in the UK much easier in terms of the financial planning to cover my tuition fees.
“Coming to study in the UK meant that I also needed some extra help and support from the University when completing the paperwork to apply for my Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, something you must have to work with young people.”
While studying, Jen became a Course Rep; Course Reps are elected by fellow students, to represent the student voice Student Staff Liaison Committees (SSLC) for each course – sharing positive feedback about the course, but also bringing student concerns to the teaching staff.
Jen, who chaired the Early Childhood Studies SSLC, was recognised by the Students’ Union for her dedication to this role at the Student Teaching and Representation (STaR) Awards 2018. The STaR Awards are an annual event which celebrates academic and support staff who have made an outstanding impact on students’ university experience.
Jen bagged the ‘Course Rep of the Year’ award, she said: “I was eager to feed through feedback about the Early Childhood Studies Course. I had a unique perspective to bring to the role, as both a mature student and an international student. I felt I was ready to be there to help my fellow students. Becoming a course rep was also a chance for me to build up my confidence and leadership skills.”
During her studies Jen set up the Early Years Society, a student society, which brings together students studying courses connected with the care of children in the Early Years – with members from Education courses, including Special Educational Needs, Health and Social Work. The society connected people to spark debate about the way each individual discipline can work together to give young children the best possible life chances.
Jen’s advice for future students considering university was to: “take the time to visit and meet faculty staff, they are the best way to decide whether a course is for you or not. Make sure you ask lots of questions about the kind of modules you will study and the kinds of other experiences you’ll get while you study. “Outside of academic studies, join as many societies as you want. Northampton is one of just a few universities where you don’t have to pay membership fees to join sports and societies, this can help you make lots of new friends and try lots of new experiences.”
Jen will now go on to study her PGCE at University College London.