Exam despair? “You can still get there” says Charis
27 August 2012
Exactly two years ago West Lothian teenager Charis Auldjo was in despair: Hopes of going on to higher education had been shattered by poor results in sixth year exams at West Calder High School but today, as she prepares for Freshers’ Week at the University of Edinburgh she believes her experience can help other young people struggling with disappointment.
Charis, now 20, was persuaded by a neighbour, Lynn Burke, the Team Leader for Management Information Services at Oatridge College, to consider exploiting her interest in science and love of the outdoors, by changing direction and studying Countryside Management there.
With a Higher National Certificate and Diploma now under her belt, plus Higher Maths, Charis will go straight into second year at Edinburgh in September to study for a degree in Ecology, Environmental Science and Management.
“In sixth year at school I wanted to go to university to do bio-chemistry, though I really had no idea of what sort of career it would lead to,” says Charis. “I needed Higher Maths, Higher English, Advanced Higher Chemistry and Advanced Higher Biology. It was far, far too much and the stress and pressure got to me. I just blew it.
“I was in a very bad place and thought I was going to end up in the sort of job I didn’t really want, but going to college definitely worked for me. It’s probably the best thing I’ve done because I feel a lot more prepared for university now, being older, more mature and having more life experience. I would recommend it to anyone.”
During her HND year Charis got the chance of work experience as an assistant during a study tour to the Cairngorms for National Certificate students and Niall Evans, the Countryside Management team leader, says: “She was an invaluable asset working alongside staff and really took the opportunity to demonstrate and pass on the wide range of skills she had learned and developed during her studies. She was an excellent student.”
Being outdoors has always appealed to Charis. She lists walking, running and horse riding among her hobbies and while still at school she worked her way through the stages to achieve the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. Even so, until she found herself at Oatridge, she had never considered a career in caring for the countryside. She does now:
“My aim after university is to work with one of the environmental protection agencies. I want to get up every morning and know that I am going out to look after our beautiful places.
“That is the value of doing a college course. It’s very hands-on. You are out there pretty much every day doing it and you get the chance to go on study tours and tackle a variety of different subjects. I know university will mean a lot of lectures and laboratory work, but because I’ve been to Oatridge, it will be more relevant to me, because I know how the science can be applied.
“Two years ago I thought I had lost everything, but I’ve definitely gained more than I lost. Anyone who finds themselves in the position I was in then should not give up hope. You might not get what you want first time, but it doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen.”