It has been an interesting path to university for James Totterdell, dabbling in music production and warehousing before deciding his future was in mathematics and computer science.
The 21-year-old from Stanford Merthyr recently completed the University of Newcastle's Open Foundation program, a preparatory course for university entry, with near-perfect marks.
"When I was in high school I really wasn't interested in studying," James said. "I wanted to work in the music industry and started a course in music production after school but it wasn't what I thought it would be.
"I was lucky to receive a traineeship at Lake Macquarie Council's Transport and Works Depot and while I enjoyed my job there, I still felt like I hadn't found my calling."
Despite his aversion to study, Mr Totterdell began to consider university and found the Open Foundation program online.
Open Foundation is a one-year part-time or six-month intensive program for people aged 20 and over. It provides a qualification that can be used to gain entry to university study and can also be completed through distance education.
"I thought I would see how I went and expected that I might just get through. I never thought I would receive 100 per cent in three of my four subjects!
"I worked full-time while completing the program, which was difficult at times, but Open Foundation definitely gave me the confidence boost I needed."
Mr Totterdell has applied to study a Bachelor of Mathematics/Bachelor of Computer Science at the University of Newcastle from this year.
Deputy Director of the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre, Dr Keryl Kavanagh, said Open Foundation was the ideal program for people who needed a university entry qualification.
"Many people are like Mr Totterdell are not ready to start a university degree straight out of high school. But when things change in their lives Open Foundation is a second chance."
Applications for the one-year part-time Open Foundation program close Friday 22 January 2010 with classes commencing from Monday 1 March.
Open Foundation representatives will be at shopping centres across the Newcastle, Central Coast and Port Macquarie areas in January. Information sessions will also be held at the University's Callaghan and Central Coast campuses, with the first to be held tomorrow night, Thursday 14 January at Callaghan. For details visit www.openfoundation.com.au.