College is something that I believe every person should be given the opportunity to attend, they can turn it down if they want to, but they should be offered the chance to attend all the same. I was never given the opportunity to attend college when I left school, not a proper college anyway, I was sent onto a YTS scheme where you basically did a full days work, six days a week, and was paid a paltry wage of £30 a week for it – £30 for working 12 hours a day six days a week? Surely that is slave labour? It certainly would be call that today.
The course I took was in landscape gardening, and although I can’t be sure if all the YTS courses were the same I do know a fair few people who had taken several other courses in different fields (pardon the pun) who were made to work similar hours for the exact same pay.
I only lasted about a month before I was asked to leave after I got into a confrontation with a bully and ended up twatting him after he went to attack me with a gardening fork. I was thinking of leaving anyway as I lived in Bethnal Green and the commute to Dagenham and back every day was costing me more money than the £30 a week could cover and I had to rely on my father to feed and clothe me – something nobody wants at 18 years of age.
It wasn’t all bad being on this course, I got to take a couple of exams which I probably would not have in my arsenal and I got to do something that I love – write. I was required to write an essay or two every week about various parts of gardening, one of my favourites was when I was asked to write about various types of bushes and we were only allowed to use their Latin names.
Although I’m fast approaching my 36th birthday I have still not given up the hope of one day attending college, although I must confess that it is something that in reality probably won’t happen, maybe I will take up one of those courses where you can study from home? I know mature students are just as welcome at colleges, but I’d be far too embarrassed and self-conscious to attend.