From a D at AS Level to First-class Honours Degree

College News and Communications
Tuesday, 11 February 2020 16:03

Helen Orpin Access Alumni

Helen Orpin, now 24 and from Harborne, studied Access to Science at Bournville College back in 2015/16. She went on to gain a First-class honours degree in Biology at the University of Birmingham (UoB), which is ranked 13th in the country by the The Complete University Guide. The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a qualification which prepares people without traditional qualifications for study at university.

Last term, she returned to Bournville to give a talk to current Access students from multiple subject areas to give advice and answer questions about workloads, the university application process, mental health and making the most out of the years spent at university. Helen explained, “The Access course really prepared me well for some modules I studied at university, as we were taught thoroughly. It really laid down the foundations for studying at degree level.”

When asked what advice she would give others thinking of returning to education and studying an Access course, she said, “Just because you fail at something once, it doesn’t mean that will always be the case. I got a D back when I studied Biology at AS Level, and I have since graduated from a top UK university with First-class honours. I think I have learned more from my failures than I have from my successes. Zig-zagging through life can be perfectly acceptable, it teaches you how to adapt to change.”

Inspired to return to education? Bournville College is one of the biggest Access to Higher Education centres in the UK. We have many subject areas to choose from, visit