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

From Lightning to a Scholarship in a Flash by Bernadette McBride

It only seems like yesterday that I was heading to the Go Higher department of the University of Liverpool for the first time, to be interviewed for a place on their fast-track humanities based access course. My journey and preparation for the interview was blighted by my train station having been struck by lightning resulting in me being several hours late (a likely story) but true. A panicked phone call to Go Higher’s trusty administrator Anne and some serious public transport navigation later, I arrived at my destination.

I was shown to an assessment room where I had to sit a Basic English and Maths (not my forte) assessment, then on to the interview where I found my interviewers very personable and encouraging. They dismissed my apologies for being unable to answer the majority of the Maths questions, and explained it was more of an assessment than a test, and that they were looking for unique qualities in all of the applicants, but one key thing: a willingness to learn and the ambition to progress to higher education.

I needn’t have worried about the Maths; Level 2 Maths was one of the many things taught to us, alongside a wide range of Humanities based modules. The Go Higher programme is split into three careful stages, ensuring you cover the necessary frameworks to get you up to Undergraduate level. In Stage One we were eased in, with introductory modules and group work, which really helped build our confidence and got us used to working as a team, which is required for group work and tutorials at University. In Stage Two after Christmas, we were able to select three modules most suited to our interests; I chose English, Philosophy and History. Although I’ve only chosen to study one major subject for my degree, an English BA, the background knowledge of Philosophy, and in particular History has really helped me understand the broader context of the modules I’m now studying, for example ‘Literature in Time’.

Preparing to be an undergraduate

Alongside the specific modules, you will be taught essential skills, such as essay writing, how to give presentations, how to create web blogs, how to sit an exam, how to make a UCAS application, and how to manage time. The Go Higher course really is an essential stepping stone to University education, apart from giving you the opportunity to gain the required credits and qualifications needed to apply for a degree, it does more than that, it prepares you in advance for Undergraduate study, and does so in a way that is practically suited to mature students, in terms of time (it is part-time class room based) and in terms of speed, it is fast tracked over one year, compared to normal A-Levels which take two years over many classroom based days, and are more suited to younger students without family and work commitments.

By our final stage, Stage Three, our group felt confident writing our final essays and preparing for exams, taking pride in our work, with growing excitement knowing that our final marks would go towards our overall grade and in turn determine which  University Degree programme which would be accepted on to, and all the hard work would be worth it.

From Go Higher student to English Undergraduate

So how has Go Higher helped me? With much support from the wonderful tutors and lecturers from Go Higher, I gained an overall First on the programme, which meant I was accepted in to the English Department here at the University of Liverpool, to study for a full time English BA. Already halfway through my first semester, it’s been hard work, the adjustment in terms of time and more class-room based days with family commitments, however the University has been fantastic, a quick email to Student Support and my contact hours were moved to days to suit my childcare arrangements where possible, Universities, especially the University of Liverpool value mature students, hence having a special access course geared towards them (Go Higher) and will always try to accommodate your needs, my daughter even meets me after lectures sometimes.

University of Liverpool English Scholarship for Mature Students

In terms of work load, it has been hard in some ways, but my experiences of essay writing in particular and time-management skills from my time on Go Higher have helped me, and prepared me enormously. After my frazzling start, with lightning struck public transport, and unanswered Maths questions,  I’m now settling in to University life, and have this week been awarded the Alan Price Memorial Scholarship for mature students within the English Department, it’s safe to say I feel rewarded for all my hard work over the last year or so.

Going to University opens up all kinds of opportunities for mature students, aside from enhancing your personal learning experience. If you are looking for a solid route to Higher Education – Go Higher should be your first choice

1 thought on “From Lightning to a Scholarship in a Flash by Bernadette McBride

  1. I have just had my interview and assessment supporting my go higher application to study at Liverpool uni. The interview went better than I expected to be honest. At the mature age of 50 my learning/studying years are many years ago. On reading your blog Bernadette it has made me more determined to complete the go higher programme and follow my dream of obtaining a degree in the subject I’m most passionate about, Egyptology. I am inspired by the level of support you had and the ease that you seemed to fit in with fellow students. I am looking forward to starting my go higher programme, hopefully, if accepted in September.

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