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Paul Carter BA (Hons) Social Work, Leeds Beckett University

What was your route into university (e.g. BTEC, A Levels, College, time out, etc)?

I tried many different things to get into university, however, working full time and attending college full time was not working so I attended an Access to Higher Education course through college which was part time.

Was it always your plan to study for a degree? If not, what changed your mind?

I had always wanted to study a degree but did not plan to go as I did not think I would be able to support myself financially. However, I decided to go to university once I had found out some of the financial support I could receive.

Do you think having experience of care has given you any particular skills to be able to achieve at university?

I think that being a care leaver sets you up for life. I felt mature beyond my years and compared to others I have met at university, I have found that I have got a wider knowledge of life skills such as shopping and bills.

As a care leaver, what kinds of specialised support (if any) have you received, both before and after getting into university?

I received lots of support financially from social services, as well as a bursary from university. My social worker also helped me with the transition.

What has surprised you most about your experience of university study so far?

There have been so many surprises but I would say the massive support from my friends that know about my situation. They have completely taken me under their wing and provide lots of support.

What advice would you give to others who have been in care who are considering university?

I would say without a shadow of a doubt, do it. Please do not rid yourselves of this fantastic opportunity to have such an amazing experience. I will also say, be prepared to work hard. This process will be harder for you than anyone else that goes to university but it will provide you with a sense of family you may never possibly have had.

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