“There’s only one place you’ll end up and that’s in a dead-end job or prison,” said the librarian over her horn-rimmed spectacles.

Wow! Talk about a vote of confidence. That was our school librarian by the way, giving her measured assessment of my career prospects after I was caught stuffing security tags into the bags and pockets of fellow students. I had previously liberated the tags from the back of textbooks before planting them with military precision on my victims who would unwittingly set off the security alarm. Hardly the crime of the century but the librarian had already made up her mind about my type. This was back in the early 90s, at a mid-level secondary on the outskirts of Birmingham, and they could sort of get away with saying things like that back then.

It was merely high jinks you see. A bit of fun, that was all. I was never a bad kid, more a practical joker with a lack of direction. Whenever the career advisor came around I had little to offer her and she had even less to offer me. Talk about going through the motions. School was one big doss.

I was bright enough (he says, humbly) but lacked application. Too easily dragged off into alternative directions, having my head turned by outside influences. Going to university and learning at a Higher Educational level never occurred to me – it just wasn’t what people like me did. As I watched my peers swarm off to various universities across the country, confident and assured in their chosen directions I ambled from job to job, with no clear linear path.

My parents never went to university and even though I was never discouraged from opting for advanced learning it was just never talked about, like running a business for example, they just weren’t things that we contemplated. The language, the culture, the pathway was pretty much set aside for somebody else. Don’t get me wrong, achievement and success was not completely devoid from my family line. My grandparents had run a chain of butchers but nobody donned the mortarboard and gown and strutted down the red carpet to shake hands with a dignitary and collect their degree scroll.

Sociology, social science, economics, they were just alien concepts. I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer in these areas. I’ll be honest, during my Open Degree I completed two modules in Social Science and when I left school I didn’t even know what it meant. University, for all I could see, was lengthy lectures and written essays; complex terms and unfathomable language.

It was early 2003 when all of this began to change. I got a job doing site maintenance at a local university and I quickly realised that I wasn’t as far removed from this lifestyle as I had always supposed. Four years’ later I took a chance and walked in to a local OU office and had a browse through a course guide. It was thick back then, like an Argos catalogue and yes you could actually touch them as everything wasn’t digital! I picked out a module that interested me, signed my forms and the rest is history.

So where is this long story leading us too exactly? The Open University offered me a gateway to higher education. Thanks to them I realised I WAS the type of person that can get a degree and OK so I could be described as a bit of a blogging evangelist (I’ve been called worse) but the opportunities are there for people just like me to succeed.

Good luck with your studies everyone 🙂

Do you feel like were always destined to get a degree? Did the Open University break down barriers and open doors for you?  Feel free to leave a comment below or a LIKE/TWEET/SHARE across our social media platforms.


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