My name is Jacob Lewis and my story took over A-level results day 2015. I opened my results at approximately 8.30am (cue high-fives and bear hugs with the Principal) and by that evening I was everywhere; newspapers, TV, radio - but why? I accomplished this while being, for all intents and purposes, homeless during the academic year.
Depression hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn't prepared for it. I couldn't handle it and worst of all, I didn't even know what it was. Speaking to quite a few other people my age years later, they now admit that they suffered with depression or anxiety after they left university, but most of them didn't even know it at the time.
What seemed like the most terrible scenario in the world ended up being the biggest godsend as I was forced to look at alternative options. Within a month I'd had a lucky meeting with someone and managed to secure some work experience. It was this year after school when I realised how IMPORTANT work experience was.
This week, the pressure is on for students to find a place and for universities to win them over. But after the mad rush to bring in last minute recruits will come the even bigger challenge; to compete successfully over the long term in a marketplace with more players and more competition than ever before.
I turned my back on University to set up in business and with the help of support agencies in my hometown of Sheffield I have never looked back... In the 21st Century connected world, if you put your mind to it you can definitely achieve it. Get a mentor, approach employers, take part in training opportunities and good luck!
The first reason why working class students should consider avoiding university altogether, is because it is bloody expensive. Tuition fees in the UK are already sky-high in comparison to many of the other European countries. Under a Tory government, there's a strong chance that tuition fees will get even higher by the end of the next parliament as well.
The current set-up goes easiest on those at the extremes - those from the lowest or highest income backgrounds while, across the board, there's increasingly disparity. Removing Grants raises as many questions as it answers, but is more in tune with daily student hardship than anything else on offer.
Long story short, my life has been pretty much mapped out up until now. And in some ways it's liberating to not know what's coming next. But it's also completely terrifying. So can anyone provide me with some reassurance or advice or anything really? Am I alone in feeling like this? Will things work out? What do I do next?
"A 2:1 is all you need" is a phrase I've probably heard a thousand times at uni and is almost certainly something I comforted myself with when the occasional essay came back with a tear-inducing grade. I wouldn't be surprised if many students have it printed in flowery calligraphy and pinned above their desks. Unfortunately though, there's a problem with the 2:1 that needs to be addressed.
After about a year something strange happened. Wearing a suit no longer held the same resonance it had back in fresher's week. Being served food by people the same age as me was no longer embarrassing. And although my financial situation had in no way changed, spending £130 on a May Ball no longer made me wince. And herein lies the problem.
Starting university is stressful. Although it's a fair while since I went through the process, the daunting task isn't lost on me. The thorniest issues then remain constant now; for some it was the application process, for others achieving their grade expectations, and understandably for many of us, it was the cost.
Postgraduate education in the UK remains a luxury most of us cannot afford. On the continent however, German and Swedish postgraduates continue to receive state funding and pay little to nil in course fees. In fact, a Masters is considered fairly standard if you went to university in these countries.