Running my experience as a hypothetical.

I’ll tell you about my transition to adult life when adult life starts. :p However my transition from further to higher education was very rough, there was no diagnosis or transition plan to help. My mother had to come up with a creative solution I doubt would work now. I’m curious how an ‘expert’ would handle the same situation these days.

the government had just changed the rules on how (a level) computing was marked. For some time students had been required to do a practical programming project. But this year that project counted for the majority of the mark and unlike previous years you had to do the project for an actual person with a real world need. Projects could no longer be for a hypothetical user with a hypothetical need.

The college was not prepared to provide students with real world users but I couldn’t find my own. Consequently they relented and arranged a university professor to be my real world use. He was obstructive, pushed for a project that didn’t fit the marking criteria well, went back on agreements about software, went on holiday mid project and then provided feedback after the deadline.

I failed my project because of him, I failed my a level because I failed my project, in spite of having the best score on the technical exam in the entire college.

so I didn’t have the a levels for uni. Tbh I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of uni. Student debt  did not appeal to me, anything I wanted to learn I could learn from a book I would have said. Anyway what I wanted to do, although I struggled to put it into words, was more like urban missionary work among the poor and homeless. Unfortunately short of ordination there didn’t seem to be any organised routes into a paid job in that so I proposed to become self employed and do it in my spare time.

after a year of trying to set up my own business and failing my parents brought up university again and it was hard to argue. So mum  utilised a system that no longer exists to pay for university on a module  by module basis. She could be very persuasive and lectures liked me so I did 4 university modules as an external student. 2 of them second year modules. The year after my parents  basically said, if you will go to the local uni we will pay your tuition so you don’t have to take a loan.

so I went to uni, had almost no social life for the first 2/3 years because I lived an hour from campus. But I got my degree.

so my question is how would a transition plan handle this eventually? A student who is more than bright enough for uni but fails an a level because of people issues. And is intimidated by student loans and wanted a job that is not really accessible to him through any systematic means?

Ps. as I understand it doing modules separately at uni is no longer an option and since I found first year rather easy I’m sure an access course would have driven me crazy (I’m in England)

  • Hi Peter


    You have asked a really interesting question to which there are no easy answers. I am so sorry that you had this experience.

    In terms of how a transition plan would have helped this situation, we would have made the following suggestions:


    • Focus on early planning for the real world project, ensuring the user fully understood the remit. The college should have intervened to ensure the project didn't fail for reasons out of your control
    • Reasonable adjustments should be put in place to meet learning needs for example, they could have agreed for you to base it on a hypothetical user, as a reasonable adjustment.
    • It may have been possible to access the community work you were interested via local charities or churches. It sounds like you may already have done this on a voluntary basis, but this may also have led to work opportunities. Again, reasonable adjustments or Access to Work may have been able to assist with this as part of a transition plan. This can vary depending on what is available in your local community.
    • In terms of student loans, I completely understand why such a large debt is intimidating. It is difficult to get around this unless an opportunity for training on the job arises. This can sometimes be the case with youth and community work. But I appreciate these can be hard to find.

    I have to congratulate your Mum on her amazing creativity in finding ways around some of these issues, however I agree this should not be her job. Better planning at the further education stage should include all of this.

    If anyone reading this has similar issues to those raised by Peter, our Transition Support Helpline may be able to provide some advice, you can contact them using the contact details on our webpage 

     Kind regards 

    Wendy (Transition Support Coordinator for England)