Where to start? That is a tough question, maybe I should start from the beginning, all good stories start from there.
Well, I was in a 9-5 job with very little prospects for promotion or direction. I had been in this job for five long and exhausting years; I had not accomplished much, and I was never academically minded, failing at school and only had one GCSE to my name.
However, I had dreams, making a difference and contributing more to the community. I spoke to my work colleagues about my ambitions but was brought back down to earth with a bump with people saying that I wasn’t good enough to attend college let alone university. With hearing people, who I called friends not having faith in me to do what I wanted stopped me from even attempting to achieve my goals; and I continued with my mundane job and being unhappy.
Commuting to work one Monday morning on the bus I saw a poster for the local college which read ‘you’re never too old to learn’ this planted a little seed of hope and wonder back in my head. I quickly typed the phone number in to my mobile, I vividly remember having a smile on my face while doing this. I was rebelling against the people who had no faith in me; Or maybe I was just nervous.
The morning at work seemed to take forever, I had my lunch break and took my mobile out and called the college. After passing my details to the college staff I had an appointment to visit the course leader; Full of anticipation, I couldn’t wait for that day to arrive.
The day of the appointment arrived, I arrived in good time for my appointment and gathered my thoughts on what to say to the interviewer. I was that nervous I can’t remember what I said but somehow the interviewer was impressed and informed me that I would be starting full-time college in the September. I was over the moon but I knew that I had to work hard to prove myself. I was 36 years old and only had one GCSE. I left my employment, as they wouldn’t accept me on a part-time basis, so I got a little part-time role elsewhere that would work around my college commitments so I could learn and earn.
Moving on a year and I had succeeded in my college course and passed all my assignments and exams, and was accepted for the second year at college which I also passed and university beckoned. However, with all the interviews I had no university that would accept me as a student. I felt the last two years were all for nothing, my dreams would just remain dreams.
That was until, by chance, I was on a break at my part-time job when my mobile started ringing, I didn’t recognise the number, I answered anyway, probably a PPI call. But it wasn’t a cold call per se, it was a module leader from the University of Derby. After speaking to him for ten minutes I had been accepted on to the BSc counselling and psychotherapy course.
'It was the best feeling in the world being offered a place at university'
It was the best feeling in the world being offered a place at university, knowing that I was academic enough to attend university and that I shouldn’t listen to other people’s views on what I can or can’t do. And that with positivity and hard work anyone can achieve the goals they set for themselves.
I am coming to the end of my second semester of my first year, and to date I have a first and two 2:1 grades for my essay’s, I know they don’t count towards my degree, but it shows that I am on track and good old fashion hard work and revision does help. And yes, I should have done this years ago and I think we would all kick our younger selves if we could.
I can’t believe that my first year has gone so quick, before long I would, hopefully, have a first-class degree and go on to do a master’s degree in counselling and would be able to help people, which is what I wanted to do all those years ago.
So, any students out there reading this have faith in yourselves, if I can do this so can you. Stick at it and work hard. Yes, have fun go and do things that you would never normally do, just don’t neglect your essays or exams. And yes, the first year at university does matter the grades may not go towards your degree. However, it helps you for your second year; and the lecturers will expect you to know and recall what you were told in the first year.
Most of all, don't listen to the negativity, have faith in yourself and stick at it!
Paul Pugsley is 38 years old and has lived in Nottingham for most of his life. Father to 3 children with a cat in tow he is currently studying at the University of Derby to become a counsellor/psychotherapist (MBACP), trying his best to stop the stigma of mental health in the process. If you'd like to get in touch with Paul you can connect via Twitter