I decided to jump into academia at the age of 40, having done mostly retail for 25 years since leaving school. My last brush with education being my GSCEs in 1993, I was told I would need to do the Foundation Programme: Cardiff School of Management before getting onto the course. Obviously, I wanted to get cracking making computer games and hanging out with fellow geeks, but I accepted that it was going to be a necessary step to get me on that path. I had no idea how important that Foundation Year would be…
So, this was a year or so before the School of Technologies was a distinct entity and the Foundation Course available was the School of Management one. Right from day one of Fresher’s Week, we were meeting staff and being given very clear structures and tips to get us through. Intermixed with ice breaker activities, we had talks on the library, MetSearch, the Student Union; pretty much everything we needed to know to get us started and to feel at home. My week consisted of Marketing, Management in Contemporary Organisations, Personal Finance, Academic Skills, and IT in Business.
The assignments were pitched at a high level. Foundation Year is sometimes described as being like the First Year but with training wheels on; that was not my experience, and I am thankful for it. I have used the skills I learned on Foundation Year right into my Second Year. Despite the modules not having a lot to do with my degree choice, I dived into all of them and I really enjoyed the experience. For me, I found that I had been exposed to ideas in my working life that I could now appreciate in a different light, such as how the businesses I had worked for were structured and what marketing strategies could work for them.
Foundation Year also exposed me to the importance of the Students’ Union. I became a Course Rep early on in the first term, and I was soon sat in meetings, taking forward suggestions and really, to my delight, discovering how open the staff at the University are to adapting to the needs of the student. This is something that I still find today as a School Rep.
So, what did Foundation Year do for me and, more specifically, my life at Cardiff Met? Everything! I made friends on Foundation Year, both students and staff that are still going strong. It taught me how to do university; how to get the best out of this experience and how to manage the workload whilst balancing other commitments. By the time I started my degree, I already felt I had achieved a lot. I knew the way the university ran, how to approach the work and I could help guide others who were just coming into their First Year in this new world. I would not hesitate to recommend taking a Foundation Year; it was one of the best years of my life!