Posted on Sunday, 22 October 2017 at 10am
by Lifelong Learning Centre Staff.
The following is a guest post by Simon West, a mature student who graduated from Leeds University Business School with a first class Honours degree in July 2017.
When I was in my last year at Allerton High School, I thought that I had it all worked out. My mocks predicted that I would receive either A*, A’s or B’s for all eight GCSEs and be able to choose whichever route I wanted. My exams were coming up when my Grandma, who I lived with, was taken ill. My Grandma died at home on the Friday night during the first week of exams and it turned the world upside down for me, my Mum and Grandad. It eventually led to the selling of the family home and me sleeping on the sofa at my Grandad’s (a one-bedroom flat) for months.
I took the remaining four exams between her death and the funeral a week later and, although I passed half my exams with the expected grades, the other half weren’t as good as I had achieved in my mocks. I had to change all the plans laid out for me and took a college course in a panic.
After six months I left college and a friend got me a job at his work for two days each week. My job was to sweep the floors of the factory and clean around the skips and then jump inside the skips to break up the window frames and glass (there wasn’t much concern with health and safety in those days!). I did this all for £10 a day, which when bus fares and lunch was taken off meant I took home £6 to my Grandad.
Five years later I was promoted to supervisor of the factory and, ten years after that, trade and production manager. After 20 years, however, the company went bust (not my fault, honest!). I was interviewed for supervisory role by two other companies in the same industry and both knocked me back for not having any management qualifications. Being stubborn, I thought “I’ll show you” and applied to Leeds to do a three-year Diploma of Higher Education (Dip HE) in Business Management with the Lifelong Learning Centre.
Staff at the LLC could not have been more accommodating and supportive in ensuring I completed the Dip HE. For example, my new job came with an extremely heavy workload and I was able to split my final year of study across a two-year period. The Dip HE allowed me to join a BSc with Leeds University Business School at Level 3, which I completed this summer with first class Honours!
The LLC and its wonderful staff have helped me in numerous ways during the six years of my studies. They provide support to everyone who studies with them whilst still advocating independent learning, so you always feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete your course.
The strange thing is, and I’ve only ever told my wife this, that when it comes to my education I think I’ve always had a little piece of me missing since my Grandma died and today I feel complete again.