I jumped through all sorts of hoops, now I have arrived.
Back in 2014, as an 18-year-old, my prospects of getting to university looked very bleak. I was very disheartened because I knew that I would have to reject the offer that I had from the University of Hull. Student Finance had refused my application, and it didn’t look like they were going to change their mind. I thank God every day for helping me to find Let Us Learn because they gave me a shimmer of hope. Hearing that the criteria for Student Finance England was being amended to include young people like myself who only had limited leave to remain was amazing. It is accurate to say that I was overjoyed! I was finally given a chance to further my education, even though I still had to wait for a further two years before I could access Student Finance.
The two-year wait wasn’t as daunting because at least I had something to look forward to. I spent the majority of my two years working because I knew that once I started university, even though I would have student finance, I would have to support myself in case my money ran out. I wanted to save up as much money as I could so that I wouldn’t have to work at university. However, the majority of the money that I made had to go towards the renewal of my limited leave to remain. You won’t believe how frustrating that was! I just remember being so annoyed with the government and the Home Office and everyone who were involved in determining these extortionate prices.
When it came to applying to student finance, the process was so long. I felt like they were prolonging the acceptance of my application on purpose. Luckily, I had the majority of the evidence that they needed because it was pretty much the same evidence that I submitted when I applied for further leave to remain. The only problem was that student finance demanded I show evidence of the period my papers were in the Home Office for ten months. I had to go back and fourth, it didn’t help that SFE continue to give me conflicting information. I wanted to pull my hair out at a point, and I felt as though they were making it so complicated on purpose.
So EVENTUALLY, I made it! I am currently at the University of Essex studying Actuarial Science, and I love it! My first term was amazing, and I am on a solid first for all my modules (glory be to GOD). I like my course and the university, and the people here are so lovely.
One thing I would say is that sometimes I felt a bit awkward because I was one of the oldest in my course; I felt especially uncomfortable when people would ask what my age was(I started university when I was 21 years old). Then I realised that the fact that I started university late was never my fault, after finishing my A-Levels I was running full speed ahead until the government put the brakes on. So now I own my age, and anytime people ask me why I started university so late, I make sure to let them know the exact cause for the delay, I make sure I tell people about the injustice that is still going on today. For anyone out there feeling the same way, DO NOT FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE! It is not your fault, the system that was meant to build us up, tore us down! It may have delayed our progress by a couple of years but be proud of your age and say it with your chest!
University is definitely what I expected and more. Back when I was playing the waiting game, I would always imagine myself at uni, imagine myself turning assignments in etc. I love the experience so far, let me not lie to you, it is TOUGH! It is tough, but for me, I just see it as a learning process and a time of self-discovery. However self-discovery doesn’t now mean that you should forget the reason you went to uni in the first place, it doesn’t mean you should forget how you struggled and fought to get to where you are. I feel as though once the struggle seems like it’s over and we have “achieved” the goal that we wanted, we tend to relax and get lazy. 30% attendance is a real thing! My advice would be not to get too carried away with the ‘hype’ of university, make sure you attend your lectures, do your work and turn in your assignments on time. I learned my lesson last term; I had an assignment to complete, and I kept putting it off until the day before the deadline. When I tell you that I worked for over 15 hours all through the night and the following morning, I played myself, and I will never be doing that again! Don’t get to uni and get lazy because it is you that will end up with debt and nothing to show for it.
By Adeola Omolowo