Determination is: Working Nights to pay for University Fees
‘I work night shifts until 8am and start university at 9am’
Micheal Olorode is aged 21, and works at nights, generating him an income of £12000 per year. He is currently studying to become an NHS Physiotherapist. In this article, Michael tells how he has funded his way through university without a loan
I’m a student in my fourth year of a biomedical science degree at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, but I also work 38 hours a week at Sainsbury’s to make ends meet. I do three night shifts a week, plus overtime if I can get it. Monday is the most hectic day for me – I work from 10pm until 8am on Saturday and Sunday nights, earning just over £100 a night, and then I have to be at my first lecture at 9am on Monday. By the time I finish lectures, at 2pm, I’m very tired, but I know I have to be back at work by 10pm.
I am constantly having to force myself to stay awake, and to be alert, whatever it takes. A packet of Skittles and a Red Bull usually helps. The work I do at Sainsbury’s is very physical – stacking shelves, bringing new products out onto the shop floor. I’m lucky because I’m an active person and the amount I lift at work is nothing compared with the weights I lift in the gym. I know I have the strength to bear it.
I’m originally from Nigeria. I came here when I was seven, and grew up in Croydon, south London. Money was tight. My parents gave me everything I needed, but there was no money to spend on luxuries. I worked hard at school though and, with the help of GT Scholars [a charity that helps young people from low-income families to improve their grades] I got some of the best A-level grades in my class.
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Unfortunately, even though I had applied for “settled” British residential status when I was very young, the Home Office waited until I was in sixth form to approve my application. That meant I wasn’t eligible for a student loan. The only way I could afford to go to university was if I got a job that would pay all my living costs and my parents, who work in market research, stumped up my tuition fees. In Scotland, that’s about £7,000 a year.
It isn’t the best situation to be in, but I have had to make the best of it and my parents are doing everything they can to help me. They have taken on extra hours at work and got a loan from the bank. They find a way, always, to help me when I need it. I worry about them, though. They are getting old and they have my two siblings to look after as well. They try not to show me the strain they are under, but I know.
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Most of the money I earn goes on my rent: £500 a month. My other monthly costs include £100 on utility bills, £65 on phone and broadband, £24 on gym membership and £125 on car insurance. I pay for all of that myself. I also spend £80 a month on food – I shop around and cook myself big batches of meals.
I don’t have much time to socialise because of my job. Ideally, I would also like to have more time to study so I can excel at my course. But complaining is pointless. Yes, I have a lot on my plate, but working hard isn’t new to me. Growing up, my parents and my mentors in the church and at GT Scholars instilled in me the importance of working hard for what you want in life.
My dream is to do an MA in physiotherapy next year and then get a job working for the NHS. But right now, I’m just focused on trying to get the best grades I can. Whenever I find life hard, I tell myself this is about my future. I don’t need much, but I would like to worry less about money and have more free time. That is what I look forward to the most.
The Moral of this story is – if you are prepared to work for it – it is possible. Find a Way.
by Donna Ferguson
First published Sat 24 Nov 2018 by The Guardian Newspaper