Sheryl Weir was delighted when she secured a place on her desired course, BSc (Hons) Psychology, after submitting a late application via the Clearing process at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (QMU). Now in her 4th and final year, Sheryl shares how the exceptional support she received from the staff at QMU helped her to achieve a spot on her dream course. 

1. Sum up your experience of coming through the Clearing system in three words? 

Quick, easy and supportive.

2. What support did you get from QMU staff to secure your place at the university? 

A staff member from Admissions guided me through the necessary steps to take to ensure that I secured a place on the course I really wanted. They couldn’t have been more helpful, and it was such a relief when I found out that I would be studying BSc Psychology as a 2nd year direct entrant which was perfect for me as I was coming straight from college. 

3. Why did you choose to study at QMU?    

QMU was always my first choice as I had heard from people who had worked and studied there just how lovely a place it was. As QMU is a bit smaller in scale than other universities, it really appealed to me as it felt less imposing, and the campus was like a little sanctuary just outside of Edinburgh. I particularly like to sit by the pond when I’m on campus and just take a breather – there are lots of lovely outdoor spots to enjoy. 

4. What attracted you to BSc Psychology? 

I have always been interested in people and the reasons why they behave the way they do. I also wanted to help others and felt that obtaining a psychology degree would be a good starting point. 

5. Tell us about your previous education before starting at QMU and the degree you achieved at college? 

I left school in 2012 (I am older than I look!) and studied History and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. I enjoyed the history part (I have always enjoyed history, it was one of my best subjects at school), but not so much the archaeology. I was also not in a good place mentally, so I dropped out after a year.  

I then worked in childcare for five years, obtaining an SVQ Level 3 in Social Services (Children and Young People). After five years I decided that I wanted (and was ready) to return to education, so I applied for a place on the HNC Social Science course at Edinburgh College, Granton Campus, and received an unconditional offer. I found this course really interesting and enjoyable as modules included Psychology, Sociology, Politics, Criminology, and Research and Methodology.  

6. What have been the highlights of your BSc Psychology course? 

One of the highlights of the BSc Psychology course was Psychology for Contemporary Issues, which was one of the final 4th year modules. This module was very well taught and very interesting, giving students a chance to apply the knowledge we had learned over the last three years to real-world, 21st century issues.  

It has been a real honour to be involved in the Toy Box Diversity Lab, a research group which has been developing resources for schools to encourage positive discussions around disability and inclusivity.   

This might sound strange, but having to repeat my 3rd year (on a part-time basis as I hadn’t managed to complete a few of my modules) was also a good thing for me, as it allowed me to get to know more people on the course, something which I had found difficult before as most classes had been online due to Covid.  

The staff have all been so supportive and are all clearly passionate about their subject areas. I would like to give a particular shout-out to my Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) Sian, as I don’t think I could have made it this far without her guidance and support. 

7. Have you used any support services to help you through your student journey? 

As I joined as a direct entry during Covid, I found it made things trickier as most classes were online at the time, meaning that it was hard to get to know people. However, once restrictions lifted and face-to-face classes resumed, I got to know more people and joined a couple of societies.  

I became a class representative (something which I also did in college), a Peer Assisted Learning Scheme (PALS) leader, and I also managed to secure a job as a Student Ambassador. This allowed me to give something back to the University. Helping others has helped to increase my sense of belonging.  The small size of the campus is also great for meeting people, as it means that it is impossible to walk through the corridor without bumping into someone you know, and there is a real community feeling! 

8. What other things have you got involved in at QMU to help improve your employability, relax or make friends?          

I used the free counselling service that QMU provides to talk through some personal issues which were playing on my mind and affecting my capacity to complete assessments to the best of my ability. I also used the disability service to get an Individual Learning Plan put into place so that all my needs were met, and I had the right support in place to help me achieve my potential.  

9. How have you found it integrating into the student community? 

QMU has a great selection of societies and activities to get involved with. I have joined the Gaming Society and the PsychSoc Society, the latter of which I am now the treasurer. I was recently the hostess at the PsychSoc Society quiz night fundraiser and will be giving a presentation at our upcoming Undergraduate Conference about this. I have also joined QMUSing - I really enjoy this group as I feel it is a place where I can really be my true self, and Penny, the teacher, is brilliant and makes every session fun. I was so inspired by this group that I even wrote a song about QMU! 

10. What are your plans after graduation? 

I am not sure yet. Ideally, I would still like to be involved with QMU in some way, especially as it celebrates its 150th anniversary next year! 

11. What would you say to other students considering finding a course via Clearing? 

"If it’s a course you really want to do, just go for it. You have nothing to lose, and something amazing might come of it!"