‘Clearing Enabled me to Celebrate my Neurodiversity and Succeed’

Harvey Bolton, now 23 and from Canterbury secured a place to study BSc Marketing with a Year in Industry at Kent Business School through Clearing in 2019. Harvey was diagnosed with autism that year through the University’s Tizard Centre, a transformational moment that he credits for ensuring his studies, placement and future are a success.

“Before I applied to KBS through Clearing, I was in a dark place. Having left school with a BTEC in Music and Music Production, I started a university course in a similar field and dropped out. I couldn’t seem to get myself together and suffered with anxiety and depression, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. It was impossible to hold down a job.

One of the roles I had relished during this time was working in a car dealership. I’ve always been obsessed with cars and loved finding out the intricate workings of the business. Though the job didn’t work out, I started to research Marketing and found the highly ranked course at Kent, which also offered an industrial placement. As a mature student, it seemed perfect.

I sent an email at first and then Steve, head of Clearing, asked me to produce a letter on why I should be accepted despite the fact my BTEC wasn’t the traditional route. I wrote that I was a high attainer, had a good work ethic and a desire to improve my situation. I found out a few days later that I was in!

While my course mates were partying in Fresher’s Week that September, I stayed at home reading up on microeconomics and getting to grips with the capstones of business. It was a baptism of fire, I’d never read anything academically before and everything was new to me, but I love to learn and read. To me, this was my last chance to succeed – it was sink or swim.

Despite working incredibly hard for my degree, the anxiety and stress was difficult to shake off. I sought help from Student Support who couldn’t have done more for me. I was referred to Wellbeing and Mental Health Support. From there, the Tizard Centre on campus offered me a fast-track assessment for autism. I was diagnosed three months later. It was pivotal, that moment. It gave me validation that I wasn’t unworthy or broken – I was neurodiverse and I did things differently.

The diagnosis opened a new world up to me. Studying became second nature as I stopped chastising myself for taking a bit longer to process certain things or struggling to make small talk in seminars. Having counselling and support the teams at university including mentoring and being provided a Study Skills Tutor to discuss anything I was worried about bolstered my confidence. When it came to applying for an Industrial Placement at the end of my second year, I was gobsmacked to be offered a paid opportunity at Volkswagen.

The good thing about autism, is that we often have a ‘special interest’ something that we have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of. Cars are my special interest; I can talk about cars all day and all night. My manager says that I am categorically the person with the most automotive knowledge compared to my competitors. I can answer any query and have a really good memory of the details.

During my time on placement, I’ve been given enviable responsibility, overhauling the company’s commercial reporting system and talking about the future of the automotive industry with the board of directors for the company. To my absolute amazement, I have been offered a permanent position at the firm to work part time, alongside my final year of degree.

Clearing taught me to not be scared of doing things differently. It has given me a great deal of confidence to pursue the things I want to do and do them in my own way. I credit my KBS education as shining a light on my neurodiversity as something to celebrate.  During my placement it has been a superpower and thanks to my diagnosis at university, one I no longer misunderstand or feel ashamed of.”

For help with the issues mentioned in this article, visit our Wellbeing centre where you can seek counselling, support and advice.

Looking to apply to the University of Kent through Clearing? Click here.

Not sure which course to choose? Check out Kent Business School’s wide ranging Undergraduate options here.


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