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

Nerves, trepidation & expectation: students’ reflections on their first day on Go Higher

Starting something new nearly always prompts anxious feelings; however returning to study after a long time away from education is probably more daunting than most. We asked some past Go Higher access students, now all half way through their degree at the University of Liverpool, how they remembered their first day with us:

When I started the Go Higher programme I felt a range of feelings. There was a degree of anxiety due to wondering if I was going to be able to complete the course; if I was able to read all the literature; if I was able to meet the deadlines. I even wondered if the academic tutors were going to be judgemental or condescending – I had no idea what academics were like. I was also a little nervous about meeting the new students – were they decent? Were they really clever and would they put me to shame? However, despite all these negative feelings, what I felt the most was positivity, hope and enthusiasm. I remember sitting in the lecture hall of 126 Mount Pleasant thinking ‘my future begins now’. I reflected upon my school life and the fourteen years that had passed and told myself ‘this is an opportunity….take it…..and seize it’. It was those initial thoughts and the initial feeling of hope that sustained me though Go Higher and continues to do so now I’m completing my degree.

I was nervous, but then once we all got talking everybody felt the same.  As we were introduced to the tutors it was clear that they were on our side, and we had nothing to worry about.

I was a little anxious and excited at the same time, I wondered if I could complete the course, but as I got settled in I found it engaging and loved meeting new people also learning new subjects I would never have taken an interest in before. The enthusiasm from the lecturers and fellow students helped me to carry on.

Lost and confused, excited but also sick to the pit of my stomach. You think that it is just you that feels lost, out of place…but when you take a moment you realise that everybody is in the same situation, the same boat. It’s just that some people wear their masks better than others.

I was actually feeling ill with flu when I first joined Go Higher so I missed the first day of looking round the University. My first impressions were through a mixture of nerves and excitement but everyone was so helpful and friendly, I instantly clicked with other students.

I was genuinely looking forward to gaining new knowledge, refreshing and honing existing but neglected skills, and meeting new people.

Students typically get over their nerves very quickly and soon settle in and feel completely at home at University (as of course they are). They also make good friends who support each other when the going get toughs (Go Higher is a small enough programme for every student to get to know each other). Each year group tends to continue to support each other once they become undergraduates – regularly getting together to share news (and a drink) on campus.


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