Dedication. That’s what you need if you want to be the best, according to the late Roy Castle. Edge Hill’s Fastrack programme, which holds an information evening on Thursday 28th February 2019, is for those looking to study for a degree but lack the necessary qualifications and, perhaps, confidence. It’s demanding: long hours, academic determination, financial sacrifice, social discipline. But in career terms, the dividends for those willing to grasp the opportunity are well worth the investment  –  around 10% of our new undergraduates come through Fastrack programmes.

Fastrack appeals to people from all walks of life.

Dedicated mother Joyce (main picture) put her own life on hold as she raised her family, but had always dreamed of doing something for herself eventually. An article about fastrack education in her local paper provided the perfect inspiration, and, with both free time and free hands, she pursued her dream.

She admits that initially “it was quite daunting, especially as I was one of the oldest on the course”, but the nerves faded as the course progressed, and she got up to speed with university study – group work, presentations, report and essay planning, academic writing:

“There were times when I struggled, but the encouragement and support from my tutors was great. I really wasn’t confident writing essays, but with their help I overcame the issues. My tutor has even said that I’ve developed my own writing style.”

Joyce believes that anyone can achieve academic success given the kind of support she received on the Fastrack programme. And to prove her point she’s now moved on to a Business and Management with Human Resource Management degree at Edge Hill, armed with renewed confidence – and her unique writing style.

Bootle boy Dylan (above) had an early yearning to run away with the circus, working with Billy Smart’s and the Moscow State Circuses during school holidays. After a bout of crippling anxiety scuppered his college ambitions, he heard some good things about Edge Hill’s support services from friends, did some digging, and decided to throw his hat back into the ring:

“The course was extremely hard work, but it helped me believe in myself again – if I wanted something I could get it, I just had to work hard. I had to overcome social anxiety, and I was concerned about whether or not I could pass the course. I really enjoyed the English sessions, and perhaps if I’m lucky I could go onto become a Fastrack tutor at Edge Hill. Without the University I’d have given up on my aspirations – I’m truly grateful to everyone who made it possible.”

With over 160 successful Fastrackers last year alone, and ages ranging from 19 to well into traditional retirement territory, there are plenty more stories revealing people’s hidden depths and untapped strengths.

An astounding 100% of those who recently completed the course said they would recommend it to others looking for a route into higher education, and this stat doesn’t surprise Janet Fairclough, the University’s Manager of Access Programmes, who believes Fastrack represents something everybody deserves – a second chance:

“Edge Hill has a fantastic community feel, and the Fastrack programme’s got a really good family-orientated feel. The Fastrack programme is designed specifically for people who want to come back into study that have maybe been out of study for a while, feel a bit nervous about going back to study for a degree, or maybe feel they don’t have the qualifications to go on to study.”

Of course, you have to be prepared to deliver on your end of the bargain, which is good, honest hard work. You will take the equivalent of one and a half A levels in the space of just seven weeks, focusing on study skills – essay writing, report writing, revision and exam techniques, presentation skills, time management, action planning, and course evaluation -, and the subject you hope to study at degree level. Passing both parts of the course enables you to progress to your chosen degree course in the next academic year.

Fastrack love goes both ways. Ann Kennedy, an early beneficiary of the programme, is now Information, Advice and Guidance Officer for Fastrack, and Jade’s mentor:

“Working on the Fastrack programme is extremely hard but a privilege. Students are often leaving a job to go back and study, so are giving up so much and show so much determination during the intensive programme. They’re putting their lives in our hands for a few weeks and it’s amazing to watch them develop.”

Ann has seen many Fastrack students “grow wings and learn to fly”, and they are often amongst the highest achieving graduates, going on to enjoy rewarding careers. Some even get a taste for life in higher education and stay on, with several currently taking PhDs, alongside Ann, of course, who has been working within our Fastrack programme in some capacity for nearly twenty years now, such is her own dedication.

What else do you need to know? Well, it’s free, it’s full-time, and there’s a wide range of subject areas to choose from. We aim to ensure you get your first choice, but obviously some subjects are more popular than others.

Whatever your background, our support staff are here to advise and guide. If you think your life or career ambitions have come off the rails, think again. And there are scholarships available to help you clear any final hurdles.

Angela (above) was awarded one recognizing her potential, and for overcoming mental and physical abuse at the hands of her ex-partner and father of her two children. She spent time in a refuge and was forced to drop out of college. She refused to give up, though, applying for Fastrack, and the Edge Hill scholarship helps her with childcare and travel costs as she begins a degree in English.

And Adam’s chequered school history, where he was tormented by bullies, meant he drifted from job to job. However, he always felt he and school had unfinished business. Without the requisite grades to go elsewhere, though, only the Edge Hill Fastrack programme gave him a viable route into primary school teaching. He grabbed the opportunity, despite the daily three hour commute from Wales, and was rewarded with an Excellence scholarship for his determination. A car would help, he says, but being able to turn a negative into a positive is his real reward.

So, new year, new start, maybe even a new car. What are you waiting for?

The Preparation for Higher Education Information Evening is on Thursday 28th February 2019, 5.30-7.30pm, at our Ormskirk Campus.