Louise Shambrook

#StudentSeptember: Which type of education is more accommodating for epilepsy

We spoke with Louise Shambrook, a dedicated supporter of Epilepsy Scotland.

Louise reflects on her different experiences of education, having graduated from university in 2018, and this year, making the decision to undertake a fresh learning challenge to launch a new career path.

The past year has been a rollercoaster of experiences. My daughter has grown into a beautiful toddler, but I have also made the jump into technology.

This has been a challenging process, and I have gained valuable insights into a different way of learning.

Read on to find out why an immersive course was the right choice for me. Why it accommodated my learning challenges well, particularly my lacking memory.

To develop coding skills in a short space of time, so that I could launch a career in this field, I attended CodeClan, an immersive short course.

In practice this meant 14 weeks of studying data analysis. Delivery of the material was through a mix of structured lessons, labs, and daily homework. In lessons, an instructor worked through a topic with us coding along.

Progress was assessed on a day-to-day basis, with constant feedback, culminating in projects every four weeks.

In contrast, university material is delivered across a 12-week semester, and typically over the course of three years.

Lecturers will introduce a new topic in each week, and it is then the responsibility of the student to independently learn.

Knowledge of the entire 12-week course is assessed at the end of each semester, typically through exams or essays.


Difference between both types of education

Having attended both types of education, I found the immersive experience more accommodating for my learning challenges than university.

The biggest difference is the method of delivery. By applying knowledge in parallel with learning it, it is much easier to solidify and understand the application of concepts quickly.

Additionally, by having topics repeated daily and having assessments every four weeks, this made sure my knowledge remained at the front of my memory.

Another vital strength is the difference in staff to student ratio. At university this was typically 1:50, whereas at CodeClan it was 2:5.

This meant it was possible to get direct support every day. Learning from a book can be a challenge for anyone, so speaking to someone who has up-to-date knowledge is a more dynamic and engaging experience.

I was able to ask unlimited questions, and have topics explained repeatedly until I understood.

This personal relationship meant I had the confidence to ask for help and trust that support was available.

I loved studying at university; it was a unique experience, and a challenge I revelled in.

A strong benefit to attending university, is the life skills it fosters which extend beyond academic knowledge.

However, when there is a need to get a job within a field sooner rather than later, committing to a three-year course can feel like a big risk.


Making the decision

This is when it is important to be able to make an educated decision and weigh up the strengths and weaknesses to different types of education.

It’s impossible to say that one form of education is the best. Completing a university course was right for me in 2018, and equally, completing an immersive course was right for me in 2022.

My life was at different stages, and I had different needs at each point in time. Therefore, I used insights from friends and family to inform my decisions.

I am grateful I had people in my life who could tell me about opportunities like CodeClan, which helped me understand that university isn’t the only way to launch a career.