A mature student diagnosed with dyspraxia and autism while doing his degree has graduated with first-class honours with support from Staffs Uni. 

Carl Smith, 28 from Trent Vale, is the first person in his family to go to university after believing that higher education would never be for him.

After struggling in school, Carl worked in retail but his interest in people led him to apply to study BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling at Staffordshire University.

Carl said: “I was always interested in people, and people would come to me and talk to me about problems. I was thinking about how I can turn this into a career. I’d never really thought about coming to university. For me, I didn’t really do well in education, so it was something I didn’t think about. After joining and getting to know the staff, everyone has been so welcoming and so supportive.”

Carl secured a place on the foundation year to help prepare him for the degree, delivered at Stoke-on-Trent College. After noticing that he was expressing himself well verbally but was not performing as well in his written work, Carl’s lecturers encouraged him to get a learning support diagnosis.

“Staffordshire University really helped me with that path and getting a diagnosis,” adds Carl.

“I was diagnosed with dyspraxia at the University and that gave me a lot of insight into why I was struggling previously in high school and college. It really opened me up and pushed me forward.”

Progressing onto the degree course, Carl made friends and got stuck into his studies with additional support to help him with his work. In his second year, Carl was also diagnosed with autism but didn’t let it hold him back.

He says: “When I got my diagnoses, it completely changed my outlook on the life that I’ve had so far. Everything made sense and I just felt like I knew who I was.  I didn’t feel like a mature student. I got along with everybody on my course and everybody was so welcoming. It got to a point where everyone on my course felt like a little family.”

Carl has graduated with first-class honours and has applied to do a Master’s in Psychotherapeutic Counselling with the goal of becoming a private psychotherapist and helping others.

He added: “The University have been so helpful in supporting me through every single year, every single module. I can’t put into words how grateful and appreciative I am to the staff who have helped me along the way.”

Hear more about Carl’s story on Staffordshire University’s Graduate Success 2022 YouTube playlist.

Discover more about studying at Staffordshire University at an Open Day – book your place.  

Find out if you are eligible for an offer through Clearing by using our Offer Generator and have a ‘live chat’ with current students at http://www.staffs.ac.uk/clearing/ or call our Clearing hotline on 0800 590 830.

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