1.What motivated you to apply for Step Up?
I was introduced to Step Up as an avenue into university by a friend who enrolled on this course and spoke so highly of it. At first, I initially thought that taking Step Up as a route into higher education wasn’t comprehensive enough to support my future ambitions. So, I went back to college and decided to go through the 2 year course and then get into university this way; after being back at college for a few months I became unsatisfied with the level of learning. Remembering the Step Up route, I then applied during my holiday off college and I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
2.How did you feel your first day?
On the first day, I was partially nervous but on the whole mainly excited. During the first session alone, I had learned more than I did in the prior months I had spent at college! I hadn’t been exposed to this level of learning before and it opened my eyes so much and got me so excited for the rest of the course and the learning style of university. The people I met on my first day were welcoming and friendly but also mature and helpful and we quickly made strong relationships and bonded on multiple levels. The lecturers were also so helpful, introducing us to the mechanics of university, where to find great sources and get in depth help throughout our education.
3.How do you feel now you have progressed on to Engineering Design?
When I was told to apply directly for my degree and miss the foundation year, I was terrified. I didn’t know if I was capable of comprehending the work, let alone passing with a high grade. Once I spoke to the staff on the course, they reassured me and I understood that their experience with university and students on Step Up meant that they knew better than me what level of education I could achieve at. Now I’m deep into my first semester, I can comfortably work through the technical units and smash all of the assignments since we covered: academic writing; sourcing and extracting correct information; finding help from the wide selection of available tutors and handling deadline stress. I’m confident in my ability and I can confide in my lecturers to get the extra help as and when I need it.
4.Has Step Up helped you in anyway, if so, how?
Step Up has introduced me to my own abilities which I didn’t know I had; helped me develop my level of critical thinking and shown me how to write both clearly and concisely. It has also provided me the route onto the perfect degree and challenged me in the most positive of ways; increased my rational confidence; all whilst increasing my professional network and allowing me the access to such great facilities to work with.
5.What advice would you give to students considering returning to education?
The same thing I tell all of my friends: DO IT! It’s the most fulfilled I’ve felt in years, after doubting my own abilities and not nourishing parts of my mind because I never thought I’d need them again, I now know what I’m capable of (anything I believe I can do). Equally, from a business sense, I also know how to create and protect my own intellectual property, I have help from lecturers and students on my own business (https://www.puswear.com/ if you’re interested in streetwear) which makes the workload from doing two big things a lot more manageable. On the Step Up course, there was parents, business owners and a whole raft of people from all different backgrounds who are now striving through education. In learning, oftentimes as people we think we can’t but Step Up is the perfect place to realise that YOU CAN.
For more details on how to apply for the next intake of Step Up to HE follow the link: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/stepup
Ashley Cotton Step Up to HE Award Leader