Darren Pearson

Darren Pearson discusses returning to college after a lengthy gap in education.

42 year old taxi driver Darren Pearson had been considering a return to education. He wasn’t sure which route to take until a chance conversation with a customer steered him on the road to West Lothian College. 

“I had a lady in my cab and we got talking about careers. I had told her I was thinking about studying nursing but wasn’t sure which path I should take. The lady told me she worked for the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) and told me about the Access to nursing course at West Lothian College.”

The Scottish Wider Access Programme supports access to higher education for mature students, SWAP access programmes run at colleges across Scotland and are a proven route into hundreds of degree courses at partner universities.

Darren applied for the course as soon as he finished his shift. In August 2017, he began studying at West Lothian College and any initial doubts soon disappeared.

“Of course I was nervous and had a few doubts at first, I would be lying if I said I didn’t but the way the programme is set up is very well structured and you are supported from step one to completion. The lecturers are fantastic and are very supportive both in and out of class. West Lothian College is very lucky to have such a high standard of teaching staff.”

Now he has completed the course, Darren has had a chance to reflect on his time at the college and how returning to education as a mature student has proved somewhat advantageous.

“I’ve always read a lot and I love biology and how the human mind works so this course has been a fantastic experience for me. I feel returning to education later in life has actually been of great benefit to me as I approached the course with an academic focus which may not have been there if I had entered further education after leaving school in 1992.

The whole experience has really opened my eyes to education, I always had the skills and I’ve gained the life experience but I was always missing the academia and studying at West Lothian College has let me change that and now I’m going to be going to university. Nobody in my family has ever gone to university except my daughter and that is something I am extremely proud of. I will be thinking of my family when I walk through those doors for the first time.

For anyone looking to enter or return to education, never think that you’re too old or that the chance has passed you by. I will be 45 when I am fully qualified but everyone is ready at different times. The right time is when you decide it is and West Lothian College will support you in every way they can. Don’t be scared to follow your dream."

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