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Gen Ed 1

General Education students prosper after overcoming tragedy and addiction

When Caitlen Collins’ best friend sadly passed away, she felt unable to carry on with her hairdressing course.

Sophie Dickson, meanwhile, wanted to tackle her struggle with substance abuse addiction and serve as a role model for others before entering Further Education.

Now, with the help of York College & University Centre’s General Education programme, both have enrolled on courses with Caitlen hoping to open her own salon one day and Sophie considering a career in policing or progressing to university.

The General Education programme is delivered from the White Rose Centre on the opposite side of Sim Balk Lane from the main campus.

It offers an off-site supportive and inclusive environment where care for students’ well-being is prioritised, and the inspiring and passionate tutors encourage young people to develop their life skills and confidence, offering extra support where needed.

Their General Education studies are then intended to act as a positive stepping stone into Further Education, the world of work and adult life.

Both Caitlen and Sophie, who are now studying Hairdressing and our Level 3 Extended Diploma in Uniformed Protective Services respectively, caught up with their former General Education tutors during a recent visit to the White Rose Centre.

On her York College journey, Caitlen said: “I studied the General Education programme at York College after being unable to continue my Hairdressing course. When my friend died, I needed to take some time to look after my mental health and to get myself better.

“The General Education course was really good. We learnt about how to cope with anxiety and were given lots of life skills about how to look after our well-being. We were taught how to cook and even made a meal for the Principal.

“After I completed my General Education studies, I felt well enough to progress back into Hairdressing on a Level 1 vocational course. I’ve been learning how to blow dry hair and how to do twists, plaits and cornbraids. Alongside my Hairdressing studies, I’m also now working towards gaining my GCSEs in Maths and English, which I am also studying for at College.

“When I’m qualified, I’d like to learn how to do nails and eyelashes. My dream is to have my own salon.

“I love coming back to see my General Education tutors. Being with them brings back great memories.”

Reflecting on her progress at York College, Sophie added: “During our General Education course, I completed the EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) when we had to do a 10,000-word dissertation on a subject of our choice. I wrote mine on the topic of addiction.

“The reason I picked addiction was because I struggled with substance abuse myself and wanted to raise awareness. I also wanted to teach myself more about addiction, what causes it and the treatments that are available. I hoped someday someone would read it and see that you can recover.

“Another reason was to break the stigma around addiction and to raise awareness. Addiction is more complex than people think.

“We learnt lots of great skills such as gardening, horticulture and business management. It was a really good course.

“I’m now studying Uniformed Protective Services. I’ve learnt a lot on the psychology side of things and why people behave a certain way. We also learn about stress and how that might impact on how someone acts. We’re currently learning about diversity and discrimination which is really interesting.

“After my studies I’d like to go to university to study Paramedic Science or perhaps go into policing. It’s really nice coming back to see my General Education tutors because they’re all so nice. It’s a really good atmosphere.”

For more information on the support available to students at York College & University Centre, please click here