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Jasmin studied A-levels at our North Devon Campus, including Environmental Science and Geography, and is currently studying a BSc in Ecology and Wildlife Conservation at the University of Reading.
What did you enjoy most about studying Environmental Science/Geography?
The variety. The Environmental Science A-Level was a great introduction to the range of environmental issues that I went on to study in my BSc Ecology and Wildlife Conservation degree. Having always wanted to work in the environmental sector/conservation, I really value the opportunity to have taken this A-Level. It was the first insight to the numerous career paths I could take, from renewable energy to wildlife conservation. It was undoubtedly my favourite course at college.
What is your job and what does it involve? What is the best part of your job?
Last summer I worked for the Environment Agency in the sampling team and will be returning after I graduate from university in a few months’ time. My role is to collect environmental data which is used to assess the health of the environment. This involves collecting river water samples, kick sampling for macro-invertebrates and carrying out electrofishing surveys. My favourite part of this job is working outdoors, particularly around rivers and getting to see the diversity of life within them. It is fascinating getting to know the ecology of an area and seeing how everything is connected. I see a whole range of wildlife while I'm out and about; from tawny owls and cuckoos to crayfish and grass snakes. Those brief encounters really inspire me to do all I can to protect the environment.
How did studying at Petroc help with your degree and/or career?
Asides from the actual A-Levels I studied, the support available at Petroc helped me secure my place on my degree course, particularly when it came to writing my personal statement. Opportunities such as NCS also gave me a big advantage, especially being able to tailor the project to focus on environmental issues. I have often referred to that experience during interview processes as an example of teamwork and project management. These are key skills no matter what career you may go into, and being able to put them on your CV at a young age is a great way to stand out.
What advice would you give your 12 year old self with respect to choosing GCSEs/Level 3 courses at Petroc?
Study what you love. Don't make choices purely based on career prospects or salary. With all the other challenges that you face during your teens, it's easy to lose sight of the purpose of your studies when you're at school or college. Choosing subjects that you are genuinely passionate about is half the battle. If you don't know what you want to do for a career yet, that's perfectly ok! You can explore new things, take your time, change your mind, try again - there isn't just one path to get where you want to be. Everything you learn at school and the skills you gain are applicable to all walks of life. Take advantage of the opportunities available to you at school/college, appreciate your teachers, don't be in a rush to grow up, but most of all, study what you love.
What else have you been doing recently?
Last year, I took a placement year as part of my course. I spent three months working with an ecological consultancy mainly surveying for reptiles, amphibians, bats, dormice and badgers. I also gained a lot of experience writing ecological reports and carrying out phase 1 habitat surveys. I then spent a total of nine months working for the Environment Agency, at first as a work experience student until I was offered a summer job in the sampling team. I was able to meet people from the huge variety of teams they have at the EA and learn about how their work benefits the environment. It was also a great opportunity to learn about the challenges involved with protecting the environment, particularly due to government budget cuts etc.
In a few months’ time I will be graduating from the University of Reading and starting my job with the EA in the Thames area for one year. When my contract ends I am thinking about applying to work for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and possibly some other opportunities abroad including coral reef conservation in the Philippines. My main interests are freshwater and marine ecology and I may consider doing a Masters in that area in the future.
Rebecca studied A-levels at our North Devon Campus and is now at Bath Spa University studying Primary Education and English Literature.
What are your highlights from your time at college?
I would say that the highlights of college were meeting a wide range of people who were like-minded and similar in character, and are some of the best people that I have met so far. Plus learning a lot of new things, and going more in-depth on my favourite subjects.
What did you enjoy about being a student ambassador?
Being a student ambassador meant that I was able to encourage prospective students to follow their aspirations, and help gain confidence in the steps that they were taking. I enjoyed being able to reassure not only the students, but also parents on many decisions/choices that their child wanted to do. It was settling to know that students in the year below were able to see a friendly face when they came up to college.
What are you doing now?
I am currently at Bath Spa University, in Bath, studying Primary Education and English Literature, and I am a Student Course Rep for English. I really enjoy my course as it is very engaging and is something that I have wanted to do for a little while. University life is definitely something that I think many people should experience, if they think it is right for them. It takes you enough out of your comfort zone that you develop more, becoming a much better critical thinker, as well as more adaptive to how to live independently. University also introduces you to a whole new group of friends, a variety of ages, who are there to support you no matter what, everyone here is in the same position and understands what you are going through and feeling – and always up for a good party!
How did you decide what to study at university?
I decided to study primary education and English literature together as I really enjoy working with children and also really enjoy studying literature, something that was promoted by the English department at college. Although I had always thought about teaching, it was not my first choice in career, but was always there as a fall-back option (my first choice was dentistry). However, when I was at college I realised that would most likely not be an option for me as I did not get the grades I needed in my AS year for me to be accepted as it was a very competitive course. However, it turned out for the better as I did a few days work experience at Southmead School and realised how much more I enjoyed working with children, it felt so much more natural! My tutor, Kieran Brend, was really helpful at the time, helping me look through each university and encouraging me to make a decision which I felt was right for myself, not what other people expected me to do.
What are your long-term plans?
When I graduate, I am hoping to continue on to do my Post-graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) for a year, specialising in SEN. Then hopefully, teach English abroad for a year or two, before coming back to England and focusing on teaching at a primary school, and becoming a SEN Co-ordinator later on.
Nathaniel is studying Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics A-levels and won the prestigious Arkwright Scholarship for engineering.
Studying: A-level Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths and Politics Former School: Braunton AcademyCampus: North Devon
“For the Arkwright Scholarship, we had to complete an exam and go for an interview to show we’re interested in engineering. I performed well enough to get through. It was enjoyable and scary, because it’s something I really wanted. I’ve been considering a job in engineering for a while; I know that it’s something that interests me. This was a good way of getting experience. I will be getting work experience with TDK-Lamda and I will be getting lots of opportunities to further my understanding of getting a job in the field of engineering.
“I chose Petroc because it has all the courses that I wanted to do. It’s easy to get there and it’s a nice environment. At college you have to be a lot more independent and you have to think for yourself. You have to get out there and do the extra work and put more effort in.
“I’m thinking about university. Lots of people who aim high hope to get into a high-end university. Hopefully with experiences with Arkwright I will be able to apply to unis, as it gives you a bit of an understanding of what it’s like.”
Jacob is studying Chemistry, Maths, Physics and Politics A-levels at our North Devon campus, and plays for Petroc Rugby team.
Studying: A-level Chemistry, Maths, Physics and Politics Former School: Ilfracombe AcademyCampus: North Devon
“I chose my A-levels because I thought they would open up the most doors to university. At Petroc I’m treated more like an adult. College is a more mature environment, and I’m really enjoying it. I also play for Petroc rugby. The balance between training and studying is hard, but I really do enjoy it.
“After college, I want to do a degree in nuclear engineering and I want to go in the Navy.
“If you’re in Year 11, look for something that you will enjoy. Don’t do what your mates want to do. You know what you’re good at; be realistic. At Petroc, you get to meet new people and make new friends. Enjoy it and make the most of it. You’re here for two years and you want to make the most of it.”
Sarah is studying Accounting, Economics & Business, History and Maths A-levels at our North Devon campus and is a member of our Academic Academy.
Studying: Accountancy, Economics & Business, History and Maths A-levels, and Academic Academy Former school: Ilfracombe Academy Campus: North Devon
"I chose Petroc mainly because of the courses on offer; I can do accounting here. There’s a lot more freedom here than at school. Everyone is a lot more mature here. I really like the subjects, too; you’re choosing what you want to do and you’re not forced to do something. Everyone works hard in class!
"The Academic Academy is good. We have been focusing on research and we did a little bit of Latin which helps you with other subjects and gives you useful skills. We have also been doing debating which was really interesting as it was on topics you wouldn’t know about.
"After college, I think uni is the way I’m going. I’m on Exeter Progression, which is with Exeter Uni, where you do a series of programmes and assessments, and you can become a scholar which means they lower your entry requirements and put you on a priority list. That’s through the Academy. I think I will study economics with finance."
Anaya studied Biology and Art A-levels, Sport BTEC and was a member of the Volleyball Academy. She is the first UK beach volleyball player to get an American scholarship.
Then: Biology and Art A-levels and Sport BTEC, and Volleyball Academy (2015-2017)Campus: North DevonNow: First UK beach volleyball player to get an American scholarship (GCU, Arizona)Former school: Braunton Community College
“My lecturers were very understanding once it was explained to them what my goal was. They allowed me to focus on my sport and organise myself and my studies, with their aid, so that I could succeed at both.
"My highlights at Petroc were probably my AS and my A-level result days as I was pleasantly surprised with the result! My highlights since I have college are taking 17th at under 20s Europeans (the best England has done in this age group), and being accepted to GCU as it has been a dream of mine to go to an American college and train and study full-time for my sport.
“The advice I'd give to someone trying to get into an American college with a scholarship is to contact as many colleges as you can with good footage of doing your sport and don't be afraid to keep contacting them. A lot of colleges are looking for good grades as well as the skills so try to be super organised so that you can succeed at both – be a professional in everything you do.
“The long term plan is to play in the Commonwealth Games and then the Olympics. This has been a dream of mine and going to an American college brings me one step closer.”
Callum is studying Maths, Physics and Biology A-levels
Name: Callum LeachCourse: A-level Maths, Physics, BiologyYear: 2Previous School: Tiverton High School
Why Petroc?I live in the sticks near Rackenford, so Petroc was the most convenient option, it also offered the A-levels I wanted to take. Another reason was I came to Petroc in Year 11 as part of a small group to do triple science – we had great fun, learnt a lot and met the lecturers who would be teaching the A-levels I wanted to study – I knew they could provide me with a good education.
Why these A-levels? I originally wanted to be a vet, and picked the A-levels to suit, but the A-levels actually lend themselves to a multitude of options and I wanted to then keep my options open.
What did you particularly enjoy? I fell in love with Maths! I was in the bottom set in primary school and started getting to grips with it at secondary. I never imagined I would be doing a Maths A-level, but am heading towards an ‘A’. The really interesting stuff is the calculus and I am able to bring all my knowledge to it.
Highlights? My ability to do Maths well, learning about particle and nuclear physics and learning how to think logically around a problem.
What do you most enjoy about studying at Petroc? The college community and small class sizes, it encourages debate and discussion with my class mates and my lecturers. This has been amazing, we all have our own ideas and thoughts and to share them makes us think differently.
What’s your plan after college?I’ll be going on to do Computer Science at Warwick University. My visit there was really interesting; they were carrying out a number of scientific tests and theory’s which was really exciting. I then hope to do my masters and PHD before moving into industry.
Long term plan? I want to do something worthwhile that will be helpful to someone somewhere.
Advice? The jump between GCSEs and A-levels is massive, be prepared to work hard and be dedicated to your study, it helps if you are interested in the subject areas!
Lucy is LBGT+ Officer and is studying A-Levels in History, Philosophy of Religion and Classical Civilisation.
A-Level History, Philosophy of Religion and Classical Civilisation.
North Devon Campus.
"I chose Petroc because they had the courses I wanted to study. The previous college I was at before didn’t have all of them, just one of them. I’m studying History, Classical Civilisation and Philosophy of Religion, and Classical Civilisation is my favourite. My tutor is really into everything and really brings it to life.
I wanted to become LGBT+ Officer because I’m passionate about it and emotionally involved in it. At my previous college there wasn’t a lot of people for LGBT+ students to talk to. I want the students here to feel like they have got someone to represent them.
The main thing I’m focusing on is LGBT History Month. I want to link it to other things like mental health to show how broad it is. I also want to raise awareness of what the ‘plus’ in LGBT+ stands for. A lot of issues come from lack of knowledge rather than hatred.
I think there’s always areas for improvement, but Petroc is good for the fact that there is someone to represent LGBT+ students and the fact that so much importance is put on LGBT History Month – it’s very accepting. I feel that you can talk about it.
The best thing about Petroc is the atmosphere, and I feel my teachers are very approachable and they genuinely care. We are treated as our age group, not just older secondary school students and we are given respect. It has done a lot for my confidence. I would not have stood up for the Student Union election before.
After Petroc, I would like a gap year, to visit family in Canada. I’m not sure about university, but I have been looking at Classics courses which would not have happened before I came here."
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