Jamie’s story

21 years old, Barrow-in-Furness

Where did you grow up?

Barrow-in-Furness.

What did you study in higher education?

Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Has your career / education taken any unexpected turns?

My journey into higher education came with many twists and turns that I would not expect I would have to deal with from the age of 16. Having part-time jobs from that age I decided to think about the life I wanted to lead to best set me up for the future. With BAE Systems being a major employer in Furness, I began to consider what it would be like to work in an environment which would see me earn a modest salary whilst working with my friends straight out of finishing my GSCEs.

The only concern I had through the application processes in these roles were that they had no real connection to my achieving nine A-C grades at GSCE, with limited options for office working which I felt was more suited to my personality. I then decided to look into alternative routes to working in a role that I would enjoy; this was quite difficult to find in the early stages of job searching after school.

This is when I decided to take a rational approach and looked back at my GCSE results. My highest grades were in the more technology-based subjects which prompted me to look into the world of IT. I looked into various courses, and I chose a Level 3 Extended Diploma in IT course at Furness College. I instantly felt I had made the right decision.

Why did you decide to study for a degree?

I began to start looking at local jobs in IT which was quite challenging given the working culture of Barrow mainly being focused on engineering. I decided to talk through my concerns with my personal tutor at Furness College, who suggested that maybe the university option would be best to help me get to where I wanted to be. This was an option I had never really considered given the increased media coverage on topics such as student debt and the thought of being skint 24/7, which originally swayed me away from the topic. He reiterated the fact that throughout my two years at the college I was constantly talking about all these cool and fun things that are going on in major cities. I thought I may as well apply just to keep my options open, given the limited opportunities for me in Barrow. When I had some time to reflect on what my tutors were telling me, it actually opened my eyes to how much I wanted to get away and experience new things, so despite everything I applied for university.

As you may imagine, this was a very last-minute decision and a hugely influential one which I didn’t quite realise at the time. My tutors at college helped me with UCAS forms and I received offers to study Business Management at five universities in Salford, Leeds, Preston, Liverpool and Manchester. Manchester Metropolitan University was easily my favourite.

Why did you decide on this university?

I would often jump on the train to Manchester with my family for a day out, I always had my heart set on Manchester, and I thought if I ever wanted to move anywhere at the raw age of 18 then that was where it would be. I booked onto an open day which gave an insight to some essential experiences – I got to see how students live, toured the facilities and got an in-depth view of the course itself (which I thought would be very long). Business Management was one of the most popular courses so despite the large class sizes, I felt the popularity of the course spoke for itself.

Did you find anything difficult about applying for and/or starting a degree?

As I worked through university, despite having some personal issues I managed to achieve a 2:1 in each year which I was beyond proud of. Some of my issues began to distract me from my work in my final year and I was very close to dropping out close to the finish line, but the superb support from university ensured that I could deal with these problems appropriately and at my own pace. This helped me to graduate with all of my friends with a 2:1.

What advice would you give to someone from your area?

University without a doubt was very challenging for me, but I feel it has moulded me into the confident, outgoing individual I am today. Invaluable life skills such as learning to live independently, meeting friends for life and having new experiences are just some of the things that made university such a great decision for me. It taught me a lot about myself and how I now look at things. Yes, the assignments and exams can be difficult and you might not always receive the grade you are happy with, but a university is there to support you. You are assigned personal tutors to give you feedback should you ask for it, and if you put in the hours you will reap the reward of living in an environment you perhaps never thought you could. A little self-belief and I believe anyone can succeed at university.

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