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My name is Chris Couch, I'm originally from Cornwall. Over the last five years I have gone from being a painter and decorator in Cornwall to now I'm studying at Royal Holloway, University of London.

My educational background's not that great, not that illustrious. I ended leaving school at 16 with two CSEs, went to work for my father, did a bit of travelling. Then, when I came back, I decided to set up my own little business, so I was a painter and decorator for about six years.

I was doing a job for a lady, I was painting her house, and over a cup of tea we got chatting and she said 'do you want to do this for the rest of your life?' I said, 'not really' and she said 'have you ever thought about going to university?'

I really questioned how happy I was because I'd been working there for several months and I started thinking to myself, 'what am I doing? Why am I doing this? You know, there's got to be more to life than this'. And she said 'well I think you owe it to yourself to give it a go'. I think that was enough for me to start thinking about actually yes I can do this and my ambition then kicked in.

I did the Access to Humanities course at Truro College which included sociology, psychology and history, and maths as well. I think the skills that it gives you, first and foremost, is confidence - it builds your confidence, it wasn't like going back to school, not at all. I think that's what was the best thing about it, you were treated like an adult. You know, I'd never written a 500-word essay before, you learn how to construct an argument, how to structure your essays, and the more you do it, obviously the better you get at it. And then you've got organisation, presentation skills, time management, writing skills.

I think the Access course is a fantastic gateway into university. When I got accepted into Holloway, I was elated. It was a really good feeling, I thought, 'wow, I've done it'. I did Modern History and Politics for my undergraduate degree. Every step that you take, you realise that you're achieving more and more of your own goals, personal goals. You're just building your confidence up all the time, and then you're there at the end of it, graduation day, they give you the scroll.

I'm doing an MA in Public History, looking at heritage and looking at how the public interact with history. I want to go on and I would like to work for, maybe, the National Trust, English Heritage, something along those lines.

The Access course certainly was the starter to all the rest of it. I've had to work hard to get here, but now I'm here I'm really looking forward to the future. That's why I would recommend the Access course, because it's the best way to get back into education and to move forward and to enhance your prospects in life and, ultimately, to improve your wellbeing and make you happy which is what we all want really in life, we want to be happy.