Why is getting a degree so important?

When I was in year 10 of high school, I desperately wanted to leave. I didn't care about my GCSEs, or my future, because I didn't see one. It was a living hell and my life at home was worse than that. My final year was mostly spent hiding in a dark room with migraine after migraine; or if my mother decided to make my life just that much harder, she'd force me into school and I'd either spend the day completely out of it or I'd just walk out and go back home.

I was predicted mostly As before migraine problems hit, but because I was absent for a lot of my final year, my grades obviously slid. I did 'ok' considering how little I was there, but it was obviously not what I'm capable of. 

At 16 years old, I did not care in the slightest. High school was over. I started working in a jewellery shop the day after I turned 16 and didn't stop until I finally broke down at 18. I got a fair few qualifications during this time.

I was forced out of my mothers house and into a nightmare-ish situation with my ex-boyfriend. It was around about now I started thinking back to before I got ill, and when I was actually good at something. I enrolled with The Open University but I never got to start my courses; I wasn't allowed to. 

Fast forward to 2009. I had finally escaped from my ex and my current boyfriend was just starting his degree. It was so exciting. I enrolled at the local college for an access to health course and GCSE maths - yuck. 

I'm mathematically illiterate. It's an entirely different language to me and it just doesn't compute, no matter how hard I try! I failed the first time around, well, I got an E grade. I needed a C or higher to have a chance of getting into university. 

The access course didn't exactly work out. It took 2 or 3 weeks before I was being singled out again and the stress was huge. My tutor took it upon herself to decide that I was "too ill" to be studying. I was so offended I just decided to leave the course and go back to The Open University. I chose a degree in Natural Science.

Having spent so long in hospitals and talking to nurses and doctors of various specialties, I knew I wanted to study medicine but the best I could do at this point in time was choose modules that were medicine-related and hope that once my BSc was over it might be enough.

After I had accumulated 120 credits and passed my maths re-take I decided to take a shot at applying to a 'real' university. The OU is really brilliant, but it is very lonely and incredibly hard work. Being so isolated already anyway, it wasn't exactly ideal. I knew medicine wasn't an option at this point in time, and having just completed an incredibly fascinating module on Biological Psychology I decided to try something related to neuroscience.

My applications for all 3 subjects were accepted. It took me a couple of weeks to decide on Medical Neuroscience. I was going to start in Sept 2012. Everything was frikking perfect. 

The government has said that it supports it's disabled students. Looking at the direct.gov website it certainly seemed to be the case that I'd be able to keep myself financially afloat during my studies, but being me, I had to check before I applied for my loans. Thank god I did. It turned out that despite my level of disability, I'd lose practically all of my benefits. I was aware I'd lose some money, but all of it, no. They never said it was because my disability isn't physical, but it seemed pretty clear to me from what wasn't being said when I demanded answers.

There was nothing I could do. I couldn't afford to move and living in a shared house is just not something I can do. All I could do was defer until 2013 and hope that by then I'd be well enough to either be working or move closer to the university and/or live with my boyfriend. 

I was/am heartbroken. To get within touching distance of what was nothing more than a dream and then to have it ripped away by the governments lies... Thanks, Mr. Prime Minister(s).

So. Why is getting a degree so important? In a nutshell, it gives my life purpose. If I have a degree it means I will have a career. If I have a degree, I will be completely different to the rest of my family. No-one else has gone beyond high school education. It means I hopefully won't be working in a factory. It means I have the chance to improve other peoples lives. It means I might be able to make a difference. It means I can tolerate breathing. My entire self-worth rests on this.

Let's not forget that learning makes me happy. I spent my entire childhood with my head in a book. For years it has been at times the only hope I had to cling onto, so to be close to losing it is just intolerable. It's worth mentioning that it was also drilled into me from a very early age that I had to be a success and that average wasn't good enough.

If I cannot go this year.... I honestly see nothing in my future besides what my life is now, and I'm not ok with that.

My hopes/goals? Complete my BSc in Medical Neuroscience, then either go on to study medicine at a university that isn't stuck in the stone age when looking at their prospective students, or go onto PhD in some aspect of mental health research. Or maybe something else. I don't know yet.

Some people have said to me: "Isn't enough to just be a good wife and mother?" NO. I don't want to be a mother, and I think marriage is pointless these days. I know it looks like I'm setting the bar pretty high, and it doesn't look realistic, but I have to do this to justify being alive.

I am the product of a very evil person. I have to do something good with my life or I'll end up the same way.

That's why getting a degree is so important to me. 

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