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You don’t have to take the conventional school-college-uni route to get a great degree – that’s the message from graduate Jo Bretherton.

She waited eight years after leaving school before she decided to go back into education, embarking on a joint honours degree in History and Sociology at Edge Hill University, and says it was the perfect decision for her.

“If I had gone to university when I was supposed to, I would not have stuck at it,” says Jo. “I didn’t want any responsibility – I wanted to work to get money so I could go out with my friends. I needed to be in the right frame of mind.

“So, when I realised that I was grown up enough and actually regretted not doing a degree, I started to do some research. Because I didn’t have A-levels the response I received from some universities was poor to say the least, but Edge Hill were brilliant from the first conversation. They offered a six-month Fastforward course which, if you passed it, meant you could enter on to a full degree course.”

She graduated in 2012 and is still full of enthusiasm about her Edge Hill experience, praising the campus, the staff and the quality of the course.

“I will remember some of the tutors for the rest of my life,” Jo says. “They were fantastic.

“I got to focus on some specialist areas of history and my sociology studies in particular were really diverse, so much more interesting than I ever hoped they would be – especially the gender and identity modules.

“It was hard doing a joint honours course, particularly in the last few months when I had to do special projects and had to try to split my mind between the two subjects and balance my workload.”

Jo had originally planned to continue her studies with a teacher training course but, when she applied for a temporary role with a recruitment agency and was offered a full-time consultant post, she decided to see where this could take her as a career. She’s now working for Hays and she says her degree has set her up perfectly for the future.

Jo adds:

“It’s given me more options and opened more doors. We were taught to strive to be the best that you can – to be disciplined, ambitious and focused.

“I go back to the campus a few times a year to help students find temporary positions. I hope I am an ambassador for Edge Hill – I talk about the university to everyone I can.”