After a bad day at work, former scaffolder, Luke Reeves, came across an advert that possibly changed his life forever. Tired and ready for a change in career, some might call it luck that, at that moment, he saw an advert about GCSE resits at the College: others might call it fate!
Two years on, Luke has just completed an Access to Higher Education (science and engineering) course and has secured a place to study architectural engineering at the University of Plymouth.
The dad of two said: “I didn’t do that well at school and my GCSEs weren’t the best. After leaving I joined the Army as a radio operator and then I became a scaffolder after that. It was alright, but I just reached a point where I was desperate for a change.
“Until I saw that advert, I didn’t know how to go about resitting my GCSEs. I made a snap decision right there to just go for it. After I gained my maths and English, I quit my job and started the Access course.”
To fund his tuition for the Access course, Luke was able to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan – a loan that is wiped on the completion of a university-level course. He said: “I am quite fortunate that my wife works, but the Advanced Learner Loan definitely made it less of a burden on her and we didn’t have to worry about finding money for tuition fees.”
For Luke, the best thing about being at the College was the support shown to him by his Access tutors. He said: “I found it quite hard at first. I seriously questioned whether I would be able to complete the course, but they kept me motivated and supported me all the way.
“From the moment you walk through the door they won’t let you give up; they will work with you closely to identify any areas of weakness you might have and then set out how you can improve. For me it was note-taking; this was a completely new skill for me, but they helped me to improve this and it made a huge difference.”
Luke will admit to having struggled with maths in the past, but after a few months on his Access course, he was achieving all merits and distinctions in his assessments. “I couldn’t quite believe it,” Luke said. “Even the modules I found most difficult I did well in. I don’t think I’ve ever had such good results.”
Luke said he now feels ready for university and has confidence in both his subject knowledge and his study skills. He added: “I wouldn’t have completed this course without the support of the teaching staff. They are really committed to their students. They know we want to be there and they are determined to see us succeed. I would do it again, 100%, and if you know it is what you want to do and you are willing to get your head down, I would definitely recommend it.”