Case Studies

Cyan - The Access Project alumna


“I always wanted to go to university, and I wanted to go somewhere like Oxford, but I felt embarrassed for wanting to because I didn’t think I was good enough. I didn’t  think I would get it. I didn’t think I was special enough to Oxford.”

Cyan is an alumna from Highbury Grove School. She took A-levels in Music, Maths and Spanish and is now studying Music at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.  Cyan joined The Access Project in Year 10 and soon earned herself three  tutors: in Spanish, Maths and Music. She met her tutors once a week for academic, one-to- one tutorials. With their support her grades began to improve, and her dream of attending  university was becoming a possibility.

With no history of higher education in her family Cyan turned to her tutors for advice. They not  only helped her boost her grades, but also provided her with the self-belief that she was  intelligent enough to dream big.

“I just thought: right I’m going to give it a go – I’m going to apply to Oxford. I spoke to my tutors and they really encouraged me.”

In the run up to her interviews at Oxford, Cyan worked with her music tutor Letty. Letty tasked Cyan with some background research, helping her reinforce her ideas with  reference to music history and theory.  The  preparation paid off, and she was offered a place to study Music at Lady Margret Hall.

However, the hard work was still ahead of her: she had to secure those 3 As!

Throughout Year 13 Cyan was getting Cs and Ds in practice exams. She found it difficult  to understand some of the fundamental mathematical concepts, which made the complex  problems of A2 tricky. With the help of her Maths tutor, Adam, they began to fill in the  gaps in her understanding.

“Adam really helped by explaining the concepts, helping things make sense on the foundation level. He applied ideas to everyday life, giving lots of examples of when a  concept was relevant to my life.”

Kate was Cyan’s Spanish tutor. They often started a session by translating a Spanish newspaper article. This came in handy when Cyan went on a school trip to Spain and stayed  with a Spanish family that spoke no English at all.

Thanks to her own commitment and the dedication of her tutors, Cyan got 3 As at A-level, and is now in her second year at Oxford – having secured a well-deserved 2.i last year. She  is now an advocate for widening access to top universities, and this year she was appointed  Access and Equal Opportunities Officer on her college JCR.

“Having tutors who really believe in you – that’s invaluable. It’s that support and  inspiration that really make the difference.”