What was your route into university (e.g. BTEC, A Levels, College, time out, etc.)?
I went to sixth form to complete my A Levels at the high school I had attended from year 7. I wanted to continue studying at a place which was local and I knew a lot of the teachers.
Was it always your plan to study for a degree? If not, what changed your mind?
I was not really sure about university, I did not know if I would be able to manage being away from the place where I grew up. I was scared of being on my own and did not know whether I was ‘smart’ enough to go to uni. I surprised myself with my A Level results and did really well so I thought why not think about uni? I received offers from some nearby universities and one that was far away in Leeds, and when I received my offers from them I thought I might as well make the move and try a new area as well.
Do you think having experience of care has given you any particular skills to be able to achieve at university?
Being in care has taught me to be resourceful which has come in handy over the years at uni. It has helped me make a meal out of what’s left in the cupboard, or thinking of fun ways to study for my assessments. As a looked after child, I have been very independent from a young age and this has really helped me at uni as nobody is telling you what to do – it’s been up to myself to choose when to work and make sure I am going to my lectures and seminars.
As a care leaver, what kinds of specialised support (if any) have you received, both before and after getting into university? What has surprised you most about your experience of university study so far?
The amount of support I have received both financially and with well-being too. I worried about if I could afford uni, and I have been overwhelmed with the support from uni who have awarded me bursaries and scholarships for being looked after. As well, the Council made sure that my rent has been paid for the entire time I have been at uni – it’s amazing because I can focus on my studies and not stress about money.
I really thought at university I would be the odd one out and everyone would know I was fostered; however, it’s been the opposite. Me being in care has never been an issue – I’ve found that we are all just students trying to get a degree and have some fun whilst doing so.
What advice would you give to others who have been in care who are considering university?
Now you are thinking about uni make sure that you apply. The process is not too difficult and the day you receive your first unconditional offer will be the best day of your life so far. Go to uni for yourself, don’t worry about money as there is so much help and support available and don’t let that hold you back.