I’ve always wanted to work with animals so in the summer after I finished secondary school, I did a bunch of work experience to try and figure out if it was for me. I’ve done work experience with exotic, domestic, rescue and zoo animals. I think Merrist Wood has a bit of all of that. They’ve got a dog day care and different biomes with species from around the world. It’s an amazing opportunity for your studies.
Here the teachers make an effort to shape the course to your interests. We’ve had a bunch of assignments where you can pick which animals you want to specialise in and focus your projects on.
All the lecturers have experience in the industry. We have lecturers that specialise in birds, reptiles, mammals and all sorts. It’s nice to be able to talk to the lecturers about their passions, especially if they match you own. You can look at their experience and if that’s a direction you want to follow, they can help advise you.
The campus itself is amazing and set in 400 acres of land. Just to be able to walk in the woodlands is brilliant. Coming from a town, it’s nice to enjoy the green spaces and you get to see wildlife like foxes and owls.
Merrist Wood was too far away for me to get to by public transport, so I looked at other options and saw they offered halls of residence. It was quite a big jump, moving away from home at 16, but the wardens make sure everyone is comfortable.
We have evening activities such as the animal club which means I can go onto the animal management unit after hours every now and then. One of the wardens is an animal management lecturer and runs a homework club, so if I need any help with assignments, I can go to that. That sort of interlinked support is really valuable.
In terms of going to university it’s made me more confident looking further afield. I’m planning to go to Wales for university and I would never have considered that if I hadn’t had that initial experience living away from home Monday-Friday.
I’m planning to go to university this September to study zoology with animal behaviour. I don’t know what I’d like to specialise in just yet, but I like the idea of being an animal management lecturer and going into teaching. I’d quite like to go into the field and then be able to give back and teach about my experience.
I still volunteer every week at a small community zoo. I’ve also done work experience with the Marine Biology Association and participated in their Young Marine Biologist Summit.
I’ll definitely miss Merrist Wood when I leave, I’ve very much felt in my element here. If you’re thinking about studying animal management, Merrist Wood College is the place to do it.