Matilda is a first-year student in Set 44 and is in her second trimester at Norland. You may have met her virtually when she took part in our very first Norland Unwrapped, which you can watch on our events page. Matilda is a mature student, having embarked on an environmental geophysics degree before realising it didn’t fulfil her as much as her experience working with children did.

Matilda then began researching early years degrees and began her Norland journey in September 2020. In her My Norland Story, she discusses changing degrees, being a mature student, why she chose Norland and how she sees the fees as an investment in her future.

“I am 21-years-old, so slightly older than most of the students at Norland, but I am not alone. Despite being nervous about starting a few years later, I have found that there are many others in the same position. I wanted to take this opportunity to offer reassurance to any others considering Norland in a similar position to myself.

I have been quite fortunate in that I have always been rather academic; I thoroughly enjoyed Maths and English and managed to attain high grades in all my subjects. It is in some part due to this that I took such an unconventional route to Norland. When I was 16, I thought I wanted to dedicate my life to volcanoes and earthquakes and chose my A-levels with this in mind. I took Maths, Physics, Geography and English (as an AS Level).

I came away from sixth form with an unconditional offer to study environmental geophysics with a year in industry at the University of East Anglia. I completed my first year there and really enjoyed it, but some doubts were starting to set in. The course was just not fulfilling me as a person, and I wanted more. It was not until further into my second year of this four-year course that I put my finger on what was missing. I wanted more person-to-person interaction. I came to the realisation that analysing data and graphs was not what I saw for my future. In the most clichéd way, I had some serious soul searching to do. I knew that I wanted to go into a field that I was excited about, and this was non-negotiable for me.

Looking back on different occasions that filled me with a sense of pride and fulfilment, there was a common theme between them all – children. I had loved my four years volunteering for my local brownies unit. I had also been unbelievably happy as a prefect for my school’s pre-prep department and back home with my parents I was constantly babysitting for various families. Just like that, the puzzle pieces came together. I knew instantly that I wanted to work with children, and since then I have not looked back. There are very few things that bring me the same sense of joy that working with children and providing top level care does. So, I am now starting my journey into the world of early years.

Once I had come to the realisation that I wanted to work with children, I did a lot of research. I was considering attending the Open University and working alongside my studies, but realised that I would not receive the level of interaction and support I ideally needed. Also, I knew that I would still face the problems of finding job positions and experience all by myself. When researching early years childcare, Norland kept coming up, but I initially brushed it to one side mainly because I thought I would never get in, and I was also too old to be a ‘fresher’ all over again. However, the more and more I read about Norland, the more and more I fell in love with the whole ethos. If I were going to choose a career as a nanny, I wanted to have the best training in a setting that would challenge me and make me a better person. I did not want to get to a point in my career where I hit a barrier because of a lack of training. With all this in mind, Norland appeared to be the obvious choice. I thought long and hard about it and realised that if I did not at least try I would always regret it, so it was worth a shot.

a female student smiling

“This is your chance to stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons. A whole world of opportunity opens up to you as you step through those iconic gates.”

I am so happy that I took the plunge and applied to Norland as it met and far exceeded my expectations. The thing that stands out most to me about my time at Norland so far are the placements. You are really thrown into the deep end in the best way possible. I had my first placement at the end of October having only started in September. I loved this opportunity to apply what we have learned in the classroom from the start. Also, if you were nervous about working with children or did not have a lot of experience stepping into Norland, this gets everyone on a level playing field. I have now just finished the second half of placements for this trimester and now have four weeks of experience under my belt which I think is immensely impressive considering we are only in the first trimester. I love that Norland believes that practical experience is as important as theoretical classroom learning. The placements have also boosted my confidence massively. I feel far more self-confident and self-assured because of this opportunity.

Unlike many universities we have standards to uphold whether on or off campus (through the Norland Code of Professional Responsibilities) and this is something to be aware of before you commit. I am fortunate enough to have been through the conventional fresher’s week, so this did not faze me too much. You can still enjoy an active social life with fellow students in Bath, but you just have to remember that you are a brand ambassador so try not to be too irresponsible. I can honestly say that being a Norland student has not had a massive impact on my social life as I still have complete freedom to do whatever I want whilst still being sensible. Also, the friends you make within Norland have the same standards to uphold so as a group you have complete understanding of the expectations. If anything, because of this, I have made more concrete bonds. The inclusive and specialised nature of Norland allows you to create amazing friendships with a level of understanding that you would not find elsewhere.

I can completely understand that the fees associated with Norland can be intimidating and I would be lying if I said it did not make me reconsider my choice a couple of times. Ultimately, I came to view it as an investment in myself. The level of training I would receive studying the two courses and the career opportunities that would be unlocked would be considerably more than if I had taken any other route. For me, the benefits far outweighed the costs, and I believe the fees are worthwhile. Having said this, I would urge anyone to really consider the financial side of choosing Norland, as each situation is different and there is not a one size fits all answer. I have had to make sacrifices to be able to afford Norland, but I chose to do this, for others I completely understand that this may not be an option. Fortunately, Norland are very helpful and provide plenty of advice on finances and will help you work out how to make sense of the financial world. So, if you are worried, I would definitely recommend having a chat to the finance department.

After graduation I aspire to work as a nanny. There isn’t anything that I have been taught that will not help me in the future. This is the main reason I chose Norland, as it would set me on the ideal track for my career aspirations. I know that, for me, it is unlikely I will spend the entirety of my life as a nanny, but I also know that when I fancy a change in my early years career, I can rely on Norland for support. This lifelong support is yet another reason why I chose Norland, and why I would advise anyone else to.

I would recommend Norland to any student aspiring to a career in early years. You will have the unique opportunity to join a long history of Norlanders who have carved out a world-class reputation for you to uphold. Something that no other university can offer you. The holistic teaching style is also incredibly appealing, and something that you will struggle to find elsewhere. For me, Norland is the obvious choice.

If you are a prospective student currently considering applying to Norland in the future, I would say absolutely go for it, you have nothing to lose. This is your chance to stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons. A whole world of opportunity opens up to you as you step through those iconic gates. Norland and the world of early years may not be the most traditional choice for students but sometimes that is the best choice, as in the words of Robert Frost, “I took the one less travelled by, and that made all the difference.”

To keep up to date with Matilda’s Norland journey, you can follow her on Instagram

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