Routes and pathways - College

Joanna's story

Joanna’s eldest daughter Emily took a less traditional path to get her degree – but the 22-year-old is now thriving with a job in technical theatre and a place on a master’s course on the horizon.

In S4, Emily did better in her exam than expected, and the following year sat a timetable full of Highers. Her mum, though, thinks this wasn’t the best option for her daughter.

“She got one C at the end of S5,” Joanna says. “She went back to school and had to plead to stay on for S6. They said she wasn’t applying herself but that wasn’t the case at all – she was just out of her depth.”

On results day, Emily called the Exam Results Helpline to get an idea of her options from a careers adviser.

“I’m such an advocate for SDS and what they’d done,” Joanna says. “They really helped her. They suggested going to an event at Glasgow City Council, where colleges and employers were talking about what they could offer. They said she’d done really well and tried to give her positive reassurance.”

Emily stayed on for sixth year at school, and used her time to get herself another two Highers, as well as taking part in the school’s Malawi partnership, spending time abroad and raising funds.

After S6, Glasgow-based Emily went on to college to do an NC in sound production.

Joanna says: “They really took care of her at the college, and she did really well. She felt nurtured and she felt much more in control.

“After the NC, they arranged for a passage on to do an HNC at Stow College, she then went on to do the HND. Again – she was standing on her own two feet by this point, but the college were keen for her to carry on learning rather than just leaving.

“She then went to Caledonian University and went straight into third year – she did half of the year there, and the other half in Hamburg as an ERASMUS student. She had done well enough to go into her honours year. She did her dissertation, and just finished in July and graduated with a first.”

Emily is now working at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow working across different departments.

Joanna says: “We’re over the moon, we’re really proud of her. It was a great day at her graduation, seeing how far she’d come. I do think doing things in smaller chunks worked for her. It’s not to knock university – she got a degree in the end. But that traditional path isn’t for everyone.”