We spoke to Waleed, 19, about his experiences with The Access Project, one of our charity partners:
I was lost starting sixth form: the jump from GCSEs was really big, the pressure to get into uni was huge, I didn’t know what I was meant to be doing. I then lost two members of my family in Year 12 and spent a period of time living alone, which were extra challenges to overcome.
Education is really important to me. My Dad and my uncles grew up in Eritrea and didn’t have access to the education opportunities I have – I feel deeply that I can’t take that opportunity for granted.
But during this time, I really struggled and did badly in my mock exams. I usually describe myself as someone who never gives up, but I was close during this period. I was lost.
Luckily, I had the opportunity to get into The Access Project. I heard about the opportunity in a school assembly. I applied, interviewed, and secured my place.
If I’m honest I didn’t quite understand how helpful the programme could be when I got in, I thought it would be entirely focused on the academic side.
Don’t get me wrong, the support I got from my tutor, Alex, with my A-level Physics was amazing – I would never have understood waves without him! But I got so many amazing enrichment opportunities as well through my University Access Officer, Amy. I was able to secure work experience, meet new people and develop my skills.
The help I got was beyond anything I expected. It was hard work, it was tiring, but I stuck with it and it was so worth it - from my personal statement to retaking my mocks so I could take the exams I needed to get into course I wanted. Amy, bless her, was there to support me and encourage me to get things done. I would say The Access Project was the number one reason why I got into university.
I’m now in my first year at London School of Economics, studying Accounting and Finance.
I’m focused on getting a first in my degree and doing whatever I can to secure my dream finance role in a corporate. After that, who knows? Maybe a bit of travel and a side hustle, maybe I’ll start a company of my own.
The Access Project works with high-potential students from disadvantaged backgrounds, providing tutoring and intensive support including mentoring, practice interviews and networking, to help them get into top universities.