Access to Higher Education, Mature learners, Student Experience, Student Stories, Widening Participation

A Go Higher Student’s Personal Story by Dominic Henry

I’ll start with some information about me. In school I made the same cocky mistakes a lot of teens do; i.e. I decided there was no point going to school because, well, what could they possibly teach me that I didn’t already know? So, I spent all of 3 hours a day there before deciding that that was enough. As you can imagine my exams didn’t go great, in fact I failed them all. But that was okay as I started working in a hairdresser’s a week after I finished school and was going to college to train as a stylist. I did this and qualified as planned – but that’s when life hit me full time.

To cut long a long story short, I ended up sleeping rough for a couple of months due to family issues and my own pride, until a couple of friends found out and let me stay with them until I got myself sorted. So I moved to Southport and lived out of a caravan for 3 months before I found my own flat. Although this was the start of me building my life again, it proved also the start of a whole new set of troubles because, although I did receive benefits, I was living on the equivalent of £30 a week so got into debt with the wrong type of debtors. That whole ordeal ended with me moving back home to my mother’s due to severe depression and anxiety. Without going into too much detail, even leaving the house to go get a pack of fags from the shop became an issue.

With the time I had on my hand, I was repeatedly asked by the people around me what I wanted to do with my life. I was told to ignore the issues I had going on and anything that could block me and just say what would be my ideal job. I answered, a barrister focusing on family law. This was the same answer that it had always been when I was younger. That hadn’t changed, but the idea of being able to do it now was just ridiculous to me. I couldn’t do that when I didn’t have so much as a GCSE to my name and the qualifications I did achieve I could no longer prove, but my family began looking at different ways I could get to where I wanted to be i.e. college to re-sit my GCSEs and then continue to do an access course. Once I could see a path and that all was not lost, I began to get excited about the idea and started looking into different ways I could go forward. That’s when I found out about the Go Higher course, on the University of Liverpool website. As soon as I seen it I made enquiries about applying, unfortunately though I was too late for that year so, instead I made an appointment to see one of the professors to find out more information and to see if it was right for me. Which after I did, as far as I was concerned that was it, Go Higher is what I wanted to do.

So I filled in and sent of the application and as soon as I did the apprehension began. I started looking anywhere I could to find information as to what to expect when it came to the interview. All I could find was there is a basic English and maths assessment and a quick word with some of the lecturers, nothing too formal. I thought no, that can’t just be it, there must be something else; but as it turned out, no there wasn’t. Not long after I was emailed to say I had received a place on the course and I couldn’t have been happier to receive the news.

September finally came and I walked in to the lecture room on the first day with my stomach in my mouth, sat right at the back, but we were split into smaller groups and sent off with our personal tutors. Only this time my nerves went the other way and total verbal diarrhoea began. Luckily for me the people who were on the course were feeling just the same, though they did deal with it a lot better. We were given our first assignments that day which required us to be split into smaller groups, again allowing me to speak to people one to one and, as it turns out, make quite a few friends who, even after that assignment finished, have continued to stay close throughout. That group of friends has then continued to grow even more as time has gone on with everyone in my honest opinion being kind, lovely people, happy to help each other when needed. Each of us all feeling the challenge of the work but also seeing the benefit from it. Applying to this course I can honestly say is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I would and have recommended it to anyone I could.

Dominic and friends celebrating the end of Semester 1 Dom pic

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