Jake – Being the first in my immediate family to attend university

I’m Jake, and I am going to explain what it is like to apply and study at a research-intensive university coming from an underrepresented background. I am a 2nd year Geography with Transport student, studying at the University of Leeds.


Why choose Leeds?

At the University of Leeds there are thousands of students, who are all unique and different in their own way. I stayed in student accommodation in 1st year and met great friends – some of whom I now live with, but I have also met friends through my course, through volunteering, and part time work. Studying can sometimes be a challenge (particularly given the pandemic) but your personal tutor is always available for help via email should you be struggling. I have found that teaching staff have been really approachable too and encourage you to ask for support if you are confused. There are also tailored programmes such as the Plus Programme at Leeds who support disadvantaged students at Leeds with organisation and academic skills, as well as offering opportunities to meet like minded students at social events. Whilst adapting to university can be challenging to begin with, particularly being in new surroundings and learning how to manage your time when you’re so busy, this is something you quickly get used to, so don’t worry if you feel a bit stressed at first! Your peers will more than likely be feeling the same way.


Making the most of University life

Attending a Russell Group university like Leeds has completely transformed my outlook on life and I have drastically improved my employability. Through my work as a Leeds Loves Ambassador, I have been able to work in teams to present to pupils and explain why Social Science subjects are great to study at university. This has improved my verbal communication, teamwork, initiative, and leadership skills! I have also been able to get involved with issues I care deeply about; I am Joint-President of the HOMED society. We are a society that works with the homeless in Leeds and not only have I been able to give back to the local community, but I have shown creativity and leadership as the face of the society. These are opportunities unique to university life, so if you want to expand your horizons like me, I would definitely encourage you to apply.


Are you eligible for Access to Leeds?

Finally, I must stress – do not be put off applying because you do not think you are ‘good enough’ to attend university. I have been supported every step of the way through my application, participating in the Access to Leeds programme which gave me the chance to visit Leeds before other students, get feedback from university academics on work I had produced, and lowered the entry requirement for my course by two grades. I only had to meet two criteria to enrol on the programme – one of which was being the first in my immediate family to go to university, so do check online and with your college tutors to see if you might be eligible. The outreach team at Leeds are in my opinion some of the best in the country, so these schemes are not something to miss out on, and could set you up for university study.