Courses Guide: Straight thinking stems urge towards a desperate choice

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The Independent Online
CANDIDATE: Katheryn Ayres, 19, Hemingford Grey, Cambs.

NEEDED: CCC for humanities degree at Sheffield Poly.

RESULTS: CDD in history, sociology, religious studies.

NOW: Doing secretarial course after abandoning degree at St Mary's College, Twickenham. Going to Derbyshire University, September 1992.

'I didn't really have time to visit St Mary's, but I should have done. I got my place through Clearing after weeks of waiting. When I went to St Mary's to enrol I didn't like the place: it was several miles out of town and very small. It seemed like a school.

'That was also the first time I got details of the courses because the prospectus was very sketchy. It wasn't what I wanted to do at all: a lot of the history and religious studies was what I had already done at A level.

'I talked to the tutors to see if I could change courses, but there wasn't room. Then I went to see the student services lady and she was really helpful. She said I wasn't the first; some people had left after a day, and some after a couple of days.

'It was a difficult decision to make. I thought, if I carry on it might get better, but if I leave I can re-apply. So I left after a week. My parents were upset, but I think they realised if I was unhappy it was better for me to come home and start again.

'As soon as I got home I did the PCAS forms. I had three unconditional offers from polys this time - which was better than I did last time] I visited all of them and researched them properly, and I chose Derby because I liked the modular course and I like the town.

'I think it was probably my fault it went wrong. I was getting very frustrated with all the ringing up and I really wanted to do a degree, so I grabbed at the first offer in desperation.

'My parents were getting sort of desperate too, so when I got offered St Mary's they were really encouraging. And the careers teacher was pleased because the school was keen for students to get on to degrees. There definitely was a bit of pressure.

'But I should have researched it better. It's very difficult: if you're determined to go somewhere, you just have to hold yourself back a bit. Go and see the college, ring up for more details, and make sure you know what you're doing.'

(Photograph omitted)