Student Stories


    Finance, Maynooth University

    I first found out about HEAR when a staff member from UCD Access Office visited my school in 6th year. Before then I had never heard about the HEAR programme. I decided to apply to HEAR initially based on the financial support offered and the security of the possibility of a reduced points place on the course I wanted. I did not need the reduced points place as I gained enough points in my Leaving Cert, but it was a comfort knowing it might have been an option.

    I never had to make the decision to go to university it was always a plan for as long as I can remember.

    Its great getting the financial supports, but that is not even the most important part. For me the most important part was the support from the Maynooth Access Programme. No matter what the problem is, the staff are able to help or, at the very least, point me in the right direction. One of the best benefits of HEAR is the orientation programme. Before starting university first year HEAR students are invited to spend a few days on campus learning everything they need to know about university and, most importantly, making friends. I met almost all of my friends in college through the HEAR Orientation both as a student and as a Leader.

    There is no reason not to apply for HEAR. The supports students receive are amazing and even if you don’t get enough points for the course you want to do there is still a good chance of getting offered it through the HEAR reduced points entry route. Once you accept a place at university, the supports you receive are for the duration of your degree.  In Maynooth University this includes, financial supports, an Academic Advisor in every Department and general supports if you are struggling academically. You can also drop in to have a chat with the Access Advisor if you have personal worries. Going to university for me has meant I feel more secure about my future and that I will get a good job. I know I wouldn’t feel this way if I had not gone to university.  Applying for HEAR opened this door for me and it can do the same for you.

    My plan for the future is to enter postgraduate study to become a teacher.


        Science graduate now undertaking a PhD, Carlow

        As with many people, I come from a family which due to a series of unfortunate events, disposable income was low. I knew it was going to be tough financially when I transferred to DCU, but hadn’t actually grasped how tough.

        Without HEAR, even though I worked as much as I could, I could never have attended. Not just the financial help, but the friendly faces and advice, and the ability to put me in touch with someone willing to dedicate an hour of their knowledge on a subject that evaded me was incredible.

        I am truly indebted to HEAR for all the help. Not just is it the obvious form of help, but it builds character. I wanted to do as well as I could partly to show them that their help was as appreciated as it was. This spurred me on to achieve first class honours. Another aspect of the character building is that it really evokes a pay-it-forward attitude. I am now in the position to assist in the education of those in need, and when I finish my postgrad, I will be in a financial position to do so also.

        I am the youngest of my family and the first to attend college. I am now one year into a PhD programme in Chemistry. On a side note, two of my best friends today, I met 4 years ago as part of the HEAR Orientation week before I started my adventure in DCU.


            Business and Management, Maynooth University

            I originally accepted a place on the Arts degree at Maynooth University with the intention to study Law and Business. I studied Law, Business and Music in my first year. After I completed that year I decided that I didn’t want to study Law anymore and was offered a place on the Business and Management course. I had really enjoyed studying Business in first year and I found that the modules were very interesting and working in groups for assignment was a great new experience. I had support from the in making my decision to switch courses. One of the major benefits of my course was having the opportunity to study abroad. I went to study in a Business school in Brittany, Rennes in France and although I wasn’t studying French I was able to go to a University in France where classes were taught through English and that year abroad now counts as part of my degree.

            I already had two brothers in college ahead of me and it would not have been financially possible for my family to have me in university without the HEAR programme. I first heard about the HEAR programme in 6th year of secondary school from my guidance councillor.

            I decided to make an application to HEAR mainly because of all the benefits and supports that were available. The main attractions of HEAR to me were the possibility of  being eligible for a reduced points place at University and the orientation programme that were offered by the colleges.  In the end I didn’t require a reduced points place as I gained enough Leaving Certificate points for my course.

            HEAR orientation programme that I attended before my course began gave me a huge advantage compared to other students who did not come to college through the HEAR programme.  I got to meet many other 1st year students who were in a similar boat to me. I made plenty of friends, many of whom I keep in regular contact with today. I got to know the campus very well for my first day which made the whole experience of starting university less daunting. Since my first days at college I have been involved with the activities run by the Access Programme at Maynooth University. I was a Leader on the TAKE5 programme twice and I was a Leader on the HEAR orientation at the end of my second year and became a Head Leader last August.  I didn’t expect to have this experience when I filled out my HEAR application.

            I would highly recommend the HEAR programme as it offers an entry route that makes third level possible for students worried about whether they are able for it.  It offers personal, academic, social and financial support.  Even more importantly, having people to support you on campus is a great feeling. I may not have completed my degree without this support when times were tough for me. I recommend the HEAR programme because it gives Leaving Certificate students the opportunity regardless of your situation, the opportunity to be successful at 3rd level, you just need the right support to get there and benefit from the experience.

            My plans for the future are to go on to do an internship in the Marketing section of a company and possibly do a Masters Degree in this field.


                Limerick, BA in Teaching, PhD

                I was 18 years old, just finished school and working on a building site in 2005.  I had financial barriers to going to college, I was afraid of moving away from home and I didn’t really understand the full benefit a college education could be. The supports provided from HEAR encouraged me to come to college and also helped me massively along the way. Just simply making friends, knowing there was a place in the college I could go with my questions and all the additional financial and academic supports too.

                Despite being the first person in my family to go to college thanks to the support of the HEAR programme in 2009 I graduated top of my class with a first class honours degree as a qualified teacher. I was encouraged to do a PhD and returned to study in UL as a postgraduate. I am hoping to complete my doctorate this year. I have worked in the University of Limerick since 2009 across 5 different departments in a variety of roles; support worker, tutor, lecturer, project coordinator and many. I have achieved a lot by the age of 26 and none of this would have been possible with the HEAR programme, I can’t imagine what my life would be like if they hadn’t got me off that building site.


                    Tallaght, Arts

                    Being from a disadvantaged background, the HEAR scheme was able to provide me with additional supports such as grants, extra tutoring, and the knowledge that there was always a student adviser I could talk to. These supports have helped me gain the confidence to progress to my fourth and final year after being on Erasmus. The HEAR scheme really is a pathway to opening what can be daunting doors, and this has enabled me to decide on my future career as a teacher.


                        Bray, Co. Wicklow, Graduate in Engineering (Mechanical)

                        The support provided to HEAR students is of huge benefit when starting college, helping with financial, educational & personal support in times of need. Being the first in my family attending college, the supports helped me get settled and adapt to college life.

                        The orientation week before the start of term was invaluable, helping me settle into college life, sort any last minute problems and helped me make some lifelong friends in my course before the start of term.

                        When a number of students had issues with a specific course, the access office set up grinds for us, resulting in us all passing the module. The support from HEAR helped me to succeed in college and inspired me to act as a college outreach volunteer helping encourage college education to people of all ages."


                            Management of Technology in Business

                            Hi my name is Dylan and I am doing the BA in Management of Technology in Business (BAMTB) in the National College of Ireland (NCI). I am in my second year of college and I believe I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the HEAR scheme because of how it supports me throughout the year.

                            The Orientation week in NCI was extremely good because Student Support helped to explain everything that I didn’t understand about the HEAR scheme and it really got me involved in the whole college experience. The Student Assistance Fund in NCI helps me survive in college because it provides me with the funds to pay for transport and money to buy food when I’m in college.

                            I also got awarded a Sports Scholarship in my first year in college. I found that it really helped me because I met most of my close friends through it and I got more involved in student life.


                                Galway, B.Ed (Home Economics), St. Angela’s College, Sligo

                                The HEAR orientation day was my first experience of third level education and I must say it was an overwhelmingly positive one. During the orientation we were given valuable skills for college life, from study skills to budgeting advice. It also provided me with the invaluable opportunity to meet with other first year students from a wide range of courses and backgrounds. To this day I am very close friends with many of the girls I met through HEAR. As a HEAR student I also received all the equipment necessary for my course which took a huge financial pressure away from my first year term in college.


                                    Wicklow, B.Ed (Home Economics), St. Angela’s College, Sligo

                                    I am a fourth year student at St. Angela’s College Sligo and have been availing of the HEAR scheme for the duration of my studies. I would highly recommend that students would apply for the HEAR scheme as I found it to be extremely helpful in enhancing my third level studies. Before I attended college, HEAR accommodated an orientation day for the participants. I found this to be very helpful in aiding my transition from second level to third level education. I got a thorough tour of the college and also met new friends from this experience which made me feel more relaxed about my first day at college. The HEAR scheme also provided resources such as free manuals and also gave me certain equipment for free for my first year of college. I receive financial support at the beginning of each year from HEAR which I am grateful for as it helps to ease the economic burden of college.