Adam's Story

Adam McLoughlin is a second year Marketing, Innovation and Technology (MINT) student from Ballymun. Growing up, he didn’t see many people from his area going on to university, but he was determined to go. In this piece, he describes how schemes and supports like the DCU Access Programme are helping to change these patterns as more of his peers go on to third level education.

“I’m from Ballymun and I went to secondary school in St. Aidan’s in Whitehall. All my friends from primary school went to Ballymun Comprehensive, but my brother went to St. Aidan’s so my mam encouraged me to try it. I knew I wanted to go to college and I thought I would have a better chance if I went to St. Aidan’s as it was seen as a bit more academic. It was daunting to start secondary school by myself but once I settled in and made friends I had a great secondary school experience.

I used to work on a building site every summer when I was in secondary school, but I knew that in the long run, it wasn’t the right path for me. I decided to study MInT because I always loved Business Studies in school and wanted to do something in that area. I’m interested in technology as well so it was a good choice.

My guidance counsellor in school was great, she told me about all the different schemes, like the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) fund, and the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR). She also said that I’d probably qualify for the DCU Access Programme. DCU is really near my secondary school and near to home, so I always planned to come here and so did a lot of my friends. I see a lot of familiar faces around campus, though I didn’t know anyone in my course when it started. It was definitely strange going from having a big group of friends in school to having all my lectures with strangers, but meeting new people and making friends really helped the transition to college.

“A big advantage of the Access Programme was coming in to the college early for orientation. It meant that I met other people on the programme, and it was good to have people to talk to straight away. It was also nice to know that the Access staff were there to make things easier for us.”

I have an older brother who works as a scaffolder and a younger brother who’s still in school. I think he’ll probably go on to college like me. When my older brother left school, very few people from my area would have gone to college, they were just expected to go out and get a job. Now the number of people going to college is on the rise where I’m from. I see lads I went to primary school with going on to third level. There’s more of an emphasis on getting your education and there are a lot of different routes to college now, it’s not just about how many points you get.

I took part in the Access to the Workplace Programme this summer and it was brilliant, I’d recommend it to anyone. I worked in BT for three months and I was shocked by how much experience I got and how hands-on and helpful the staff there were. I thought I would be intimidated by a big multinational corporation like that, but now I’d love to work there some day.

I don’t really know what I’ll do when I finish college, I think it’s a misconception that you need to have a full plan. I’m just going to take every opportunity that comes my way, and I’ll end up where I’m meant to be.”

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