Access course turned life around for student

An Access to Higher Education student from South Essex College has credited the course with helping him turn his life around.

Jack Wakeling, 25, a former alcohol and drug addict who was even homeless for a while, studied the Access to HE (Psychology & Sociology) course at the college’s Southend Campus while receiving help from HARP, Southend’s Homeless Charity.

Jack said: “The Access course has helped me in so many ways. When I first got into recovery last year and moved into HARP’s support network, I quit my job and lost everything. It was at this point I realised I had the opportunity to finally chase my dream career.

“I had dropped out of college three times when I was a teenager but always found psychology so interesting. One day I decided to look up university courses and was pointed in the direction of Access which would allow me to study for a degree in the future.”

The college runs Access courses in a variety of subjects to help those who didn't pursue degree education the first time round still achieve their goals.

Access to Higher Education courses prepare adults for study at university level, once completed they'll allow individuals on a degree course regardless of their previous qualifications.

Jack added: “I fear without adult education I may have tippled and gone back to my old drinking and drug habits. The tutors were very welcoming and always had time for me to discuss any issues I had.

“I quickly made it clear that I was in the early stages of recovery and that sometimes I may struggle, they were amazing and helped me every step of the way.

“Without this Access course, it would be very difficult for adults who fall through the system in their teen years to re-invent their life for the better. This course helps so many adults like me who want a second chance.

“I would urge anyone considering going back to education to take the risk and do it because it has benefited me in so many ways. I was working five evenings a week as well as studying so to anyone worrying about fitting it in around their current life and commitments, it is possible!”

Jack has now accepted an offer to study clinical and community psychology at the University of East London.

For more information about the college’s Access to Higher Education courses, visit

The college is holding a virtual careers advice event for adults on Tuesday 7 July. The one hour webinar with award winning career coach, Jenny Garrett, starts at 10am. Attendees will learn how to make a change in their career and identify their skills and strengths. After the interactive session, listeners will be able to speak to college staff about course options and pathways. For more information, visit