The college year has officially begun for students, but they aren’t the only ones returning or starting a new college year; the University of Galway is welcoming back a new group of Access Course students to the campus. On the university’s website there is a variety of information regarding what the Access Programme is because some individuals have never heard of it.
The Access Course in the University of Galway is essentially a taster of college and provides students with the opportunity to study a range of subjects; students who were under-represented when it came to third level education. The course runs for a duration of one year on the campus so students get to utilise the campus facilities which include the Hardiman Library, the I.T laboratories and the social spots. The Access Programme opens itself to students who have just finished a second level education and mature students who wish to return to education.
The course provides an opportunity that can’t be overlooked for its core teaching subjects range from Study Skills, Applied Writing, Information Technology and Educational Guidance while the academic options include a variety of subjects from four different colleges of study; College of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies, College of Science, College of Engineering & Informatics and College of Business, Public Policy and Law. Students can either choose the arts route or the science route with subjects of Sociology, Maths, History, English for the arts and Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry in the science route. The course cost is borne by the University.
I was an Access student and benefited handsomely from the course. As a student who was bullied in school, my Leaving cert results failed and Access Course welcomed me in to give me a second chance to redeem myself. I suffered bad with anxiety and public speaking frightened me, meeting new people terrified me. I was taught by some of the University’s best lecturers and Head of Access, Mary Surlis took me under her wing. Her guidance and belief in me pushed me to become one of the best students and to gain my lost confidence back. The core subjects prepared me for my first year of college after I graduated Access course with four A’s and four B’s.
SIN conducted an interview with two past Access Programme students to see how their experience was during their time in the course.
Vick Mannion, who was alongside myself in Access Course 2017, said “When I first started, I was really nervous and didn’t have a lot of confidence. I found Arts in Action to be really helpful even though I didn’t think it was helping me at the time. The classes were well structured and learning material was really easy. I liked the way how it wasn’t like school, but not exactly college either, but I loved the responsibilities we had along with freedom; it was a nice transition into college life. The core subjects were a big help as we were taught how to structure an essay and how to answer questions correctly. Overall, I really enjoyed the Access Course and would recommend it to anyone who wants to go to college but isn’t quite ready for the whole experience”.
Austin Curran of Access Course 2016 said “I thoroughly enjoyed the course; it was a great way of easing myself into college life. Every skill and knowledge that I obtained from the course was relevant and useful for college life and was applied to my undergraduate assignments, presentations and exams. It also allowed me to sample different subjects before fully committing to them. If it weren’t for Access, I would not have made it to university as I didn’t have the relevant Leaving Cert points for my course; I can thank Access for my Undergraduate Degree in Applied Physics along with my Masters Degree in Medical Physics. I encourage anyone to join Access if they don’t know what they want to do, Access Course is the answer”.