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Graduation stories – gaining a degree despite dyslexia

9 August 2013

After being diagnosed with dyslexia in Primary 5, and struggling academically throughout school, Matthew Morgan never thought he would be capable of completing a university degree.

However, he has just graduated at the age of 20 with a 2:1 BSc (Hons) in Sports Coaching from Abertay.

Here, he tells us a bit about how he achieved this.

“I’ve always loved sport but, having dyslexia, when it came to writing essays, I’d always struggled. I loved the practical side of coaching, but I didn’t think I’d ever be able to study it at university - the thought of having to read academic journals and texts was just something I didn’t think I’d be able to do.

“So when I left school, I enrolled on the HND Sports Coaching with Development at Elmwood College.

“My lecturers were incredibly supportive there, and encouraged me to believe in myself more. I did really well on my course and, as a result, was able to gain direct entry into third year of the Sports Coaching degree at Abertay.

“I would advise anybody who has dyslexia, but thinks they won't be able to go to university, to think about studying at Abertay, as the support and lecturing staff are extremely approachable and helpful.

“I’ve always found reading and processing written information challenging, and so was worried about taking notes and listening during lectures.

"I found school and college hard, but the Student Services team at Abertay were amazing – Sheila Baillie in particular was exceptionally important, as she was always there to help me find solutions to the problems I was having.

“In my first year [third year of the degree] I got funding for a laptop that allowed me to type my notes during lectures – something I could do quicker than write.

“It was also arranged for me to get lecture notes and slides ahead of the lectures starting, which enabled me to be prepared for lectures and to concentrate on them instead of worrying about taking notes that would likely end up being incomplete and hard to understand.

“In my final year, my opinion of the support I had received in third year was taken into account, and this led to me being provided with a scribe book – like dictaphone in pen form – which allowed me to record my lectures, as well as take further key notes that weren’t on the slides.

“Writing essays and exams was tough, but the support staff ensured I had extra time, as well as a reader who could ask me the questions out loud.

“Knowing that all this was available made Abertay a very approachable and stress-free place to study, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

“It allowed me personally to focus on my work and not panic about having problems, as the solutions were in place right from the beginning of each year.

"I've always been passionate about coaching, and have been doing it since I was 14. I started with AM Soccer Schools, where my initial duties were developing session plans and delivering coaching sessions for children aged 5-13. As the club grew though, I took on more responsibility, becoming head coach for AM Soccer Tots and AM Soccer Ones.

“All the work I’ve done at AM over the years enabled me to gain my coaching badges in the first instance, but now I have an Honours degree as well, and I just can't wait to get my first full-time job so I can put all my knowledge and experience into practice."

Matthew is on the look out for a full-time coaching job, and continues to use his skills and expertise as a coach at the AM Soccer School in Cupar.

He has also just signed a two year contract to play football for St Andrews United Juniors.

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