My Journey Into Accessing Higher Education
At school I knew I was different, I didn’t fit in amongst my peers. I often missed classes as I had to attend visits with my social worker and meetings with the social services. As a result, I achieved much lower than most of my classmates and always felt disorientated in the next lesson. I often used my authorised absences as a reason to why I didn’t do the homework or my below average grades. There was no need for me to try, I didn’t have anyone to push me to do better and I didn’t see the point in going to school.
One day in Year 9 a teacher referred me to this after school program called ‘Success 4 Life’ which was run by Greater Manchester Higher. In this club, I was able to develop my confidence by participating in the activities given and able to form meaningful relationships with the other students in the club. As participating in the activities was optional rather than compulsory, both the staff and the other students in the club always encouraged each other to do our best and try new things. I felt included and capable of doing more whereas at school I would avoid putting my hand up in fear of saying the wrong answer. I started to pay attention and participate in lessons more and I requested that my meetings were arranged at a time to minimise school disruption. This is because the Success 4 Life programme made me realise that I will only have this experience once so I should make the most out of it.
At school, the teachers noticed I was more engaged and this led me to receiving an award as the most improved student. This encouraged me to try my best in all of my lessons and I began feeling a sense of belonging and competence at school. Success 4 Life slowly introduced the idea of higher education and the opportunities available such as studying or working abroad, travelling the world and being able to live in a new place.
I was worried about being able to go to university as I didn’t know anything about it. However, after speaking about it with my teacher I found out there is lots of support available both when applying to the university and while at university, such as additional funding, an accommodation guarantee and a support network. As I knew all this support was available, I began spending more time on my homework and focussing in lessons because I knew that the university will meet all of my needs (financial, physical and mental). It also gave me the opportunity to study in depth something I was interested in. I initially despised Biology as I was convinced I was awful at it. However, after paying attention and getting help with the homework I realised I found certain modules fascinating and wanted to learn more about it.
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