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“I was the first one in all of my family to ever go to university. Which also meant that I was the first one to stop going to university,” Julia Goodwin, who originally began her SFU undergraduate degree immediately after high school, explains. After three years of taking music and French courses in pursuit of a teaching accreditation, she realized she didn’t want to be a teacher anymore; she didn’t know who she was, or what she wanted.
It wasn’t until she had gained valuable life experience and was working in a full-time sales position that she began thinking about going back to school. “I had gone so far the first time I went, it felt like unfinished business,” Julia says. “It was something that was really important to me and the longer it went, the more important it became to me.”
But she had no idea where to start. “I contacted a few people and asked, ‘How would I do this? Are my credits even still valid? How have things changed?’” This inquiry led her to an SFU NOW: Nights or Weekends information session where she learned that through part-time studies she could complete her degree.
Her decision to return to school didn’t come without hesitation though. “My first course was in a 400-person lecture hall and it was super intimidating because I was definitely the oldest person there,” Julia says. She admits that time management was also a challenge. Between working full time and social obligations it was essential to be open and honest with her family and friends: “I had to make an absolutely rigid schedule and stick to it.”
It was reassuring to see other mature students approach their return to school in the same way. “The program allows so many different types of people at so many different times in their life,” Julia explains. “There were women who were my mom’s age or older, guys who were single dads and wanted to up their careers. It was really cool.”
Moreover, the quality of the courses and her personal interest in her chosen degree focus, police studies, outweighed any obstacles she faced. “With the SFU NOW program the calibre of discussion was so high,” Julia recalls. “I knew that with me being super busy and working I needed to take something that I was super interested in . . . I’m so glad I took [police studies], it was fascinating.” She recommends that anyone considering going back to school choose something they’re passionate about.
For Julia, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double minor in music and police studies was not only a reflection of this passion, but a major personal accomplishment. “It feels awesome,” she says. “It was a completely personal goal and it means a lot to know that my parents can say their daughter finished what she started—she didn’t just give up.”