Success story: Ben Strata

My name is Ben, I am 25-years-old, I studied Access to Business Management at South Essex College and this is my story.

Before attending South Essex College, I worked part-time mainly as a cashier at KFC. I tried multiple online A level courses but found them to be too intense and not interactive enough. The courses I tried didn’t even have online courses, they just offered you the material and the facilities to sit your exams. I worked for almost two years at KFC while trying to do Psychology and Business A levels online. 

Since completing my Access to Business Management course I’ve gone on to study Business Management at Kent University. I achieved a first-class honours in my first year and am currently in my second-year specialising in operations management, project management and entrepreneurship. I will be doing a year in industry placement around June/July to gain experience and increase my prospects after I finish my degree. 

I was informed by a co-worker about the Access course and he also studied Access to Business Management course. This was the first time hearing about the course and I was quite interested because it applied to me, there aren’t much options for mature students looking to go to university. Having attempted online classes and failing I wanted to attend actual classes, with online learning you really have to teach yourself and that can be quite overwhelming having been out of education for so long, because you have to take on the role of both teacher and student.  

The course gives you a fantastic foundation, not just in terms of preparing you for the type of work at university and the work load but also the actual subject. You cover the general fundamentals and a lot of the material I learned on the course is still applicable to what I’m doing in my second year. 

South Essex College has a ton of facilities and equipment you can use. What was especially helpful was the access I had to journals and academic databases. I’ve noticed that the college actually has more permissions for scientific journals and databases such as emerald insight and science direct compared to Kent university. 

I can mainly speak to and about the Access course I did but it is a fantastic course for mature students. Prior to the course I was lacking in confidence academically, I wasn’t happy with my job but had with very few GCSEs. The course, in my eyes, was like another chance, you only need English and maths and even then, there were people on the course without English and maths but they had the opportunity to do them again. Of course, you need to apply yourself and be very diligent and willing to learn but the course is aimed and catered for people that have been out of education for a while or are almost at a base level starting point. The facilities and teachers at South Essex College are what brought all of it together and created a motivating and encouraging environment to progress and start my academic journey again. 

I am still unsure of what I’d like to do as a career but I am definitely in a much better position now. I’d like to do something in management consulting or project management and I’m hoping my placement this year will narrow down and give me a clearer insight into what I want to do. I have applied and in the process of being accepted for a managerial position at a charity helping adults who are illiterate. I became interested in the charity because I can relate to coming from a position of a very basic level of education and I understand the importance of education. I have an interview with the pioneer for the area I’m in and the district manager and hopefully, once I’m accepted, I can help the organisation while developing myself further. 

The course absolutely helped me with my confidence academically and generally. There’s nothing wrong with working in a low-skill minimum wage job, especially if you have ambitions to work your way up. However, I never planned to work at KFC forever or to become team leader or manager. Fundamentally, having qualifications gives you more opportunities. I don’t have to work a business-related job for example. My business management degree will give me a lot of flexibility. I think that’s why I have gained confidence, I feel proud of what I have accomplished with greater prospects and opportunities ahead.

For more information on the Access to Business Management course, visit: