Danielle Owen tell us about her fascinating degree and life at Plymouth University.
What course are you studying: Bsc(Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies at Plymouth University (I minored in Psychology in my first year but dropped it going in to my second year because I didn't enjoy it).
What did you study at school/college: My A Levels were French, Law, Psychology, Extended Project Qualification, and English Literature.
Why did you choose this course?
I have always been interested in law, and I have also always loved crime shows (think Motorway Cops etc). I wasn't confident in only being able to study criminal law in my final year of my degree, a module I actually take now, so I chose criminology.
Why did you choose this uni?
I initially had no intention of going to Plymouth, and all my choices were Welsh universities. One of my friends mentioned in passing one day that I might like Plymouth because it is near the sea and had a nice atmosphere, and unlike many other unis everything is within close proximity. I went on an open day and it stole my heart - I never looked back!
What are the facilities like?
We have a huge library where I have spent most my time this year, which also has a cafe, several computer rooms with many printers, and study areas. There are a lot of halls, a couple on campus with separate blocks over the road, a new block almost on the seafront, some in the town centre, and some a 15 minute walk from uni. We also have a gym with fitness classes in the fitness centre, and state of the art labs for science and marine science degrees.
What's the student experience like?
The student experience is amazing, within days I had made friends all over my halls and on my course. Freshers Week is great in first year with events such as the Inter Halls Social being a big hit. There are many societies, and the one related to my degree field is where I made most of my friends. I enjoyed it so much that I was Social Secretary for a year, and for the last year was the President. Thr nightlife is also pretty good. The Student Union is a good one for a night out, or even a quiet drink, Oceana is the place to go for a Monday student night, and there are several streets full of bars that don't shut until 5am - you can't go wrong!
Best thing about studying at your uni?
At the risk of sounding cliche, the best part for me has been the complete support of the lecturers and course staff. There has never been an issue too small or too big for them, and my dissertation supervisor has been incredible for the last year. Support from university staff is essential to succeeding in a degree, because once that realisation hits that it isn't all about the drinking, then that is where you turn to.
Have you done any work-experience?
Over the last 3 years I have completed over 200 hours of volunteering as a student, most of which was completed through my society. This experience is all coming to use now that I am looking for a job, so don't turn it down. I have worked at Dartmoor Prison, done several different experiences with Devon and Cornwall Police, worked with Youth Offending Teams, completed and taught first aid with the British Red Cross, and most recently completed a placement with Plymouth Magistrates' Court. I have done so much more, but these have been the highlights.
What are your future career plans?
In an ideal world I would love to get into a career in social work. However, this would most likely mean completing a 2 year Masters degree, which is not something I can afford at the moment. So in terms of short term goals, I am hoping to establish myself based on my strengths and interests until I have the opportunity to branch into social work.
Any tips for students thinking about going to uni?
My biggsest tip is to just say "yes". You only regret the things you don't do, and university is full of opportunities that can lead you somewhere great. Even if something might seem insignificant and not worth those early mornings, you will be grateful of it after your degree has finished.