Three Helpline users report their experiences of the information service to Joan Elrick. A call to the Helpline set up by the careers service pointed Elisabeth Glover towards a lucky find. However, she has also needed steely determination to get what she wants.
The 17-year-old former Inverurie Academy pupil set her heart on an honours degree in public relations, but the grades of her Highers (B and four Cs) were not good enough for any of the courses recognised by the Institute of Public Relations.
"There are only six in the whole country," she says. Napier University and Queen Margaret College needed three Bs, and although the latter put her in a "holding queue" she was not prepared to chance her future.
"I had offers to do communications or media studies at Sunderland or Paisley, but these courses are not recognised by the institute," she said. "I phoned frantically round all the colleges and universities, ending up with a big head of spaghetti."
In desperation she contacted the Helpline whose "excellent advice" included a suggestion to look at Teletext information about courses.
There Elisabeth found a course at Central Lancashire University in Preston.
"It's brand new and was only approved in May, so it's not in the 1996 prospectus."
It took three calls to the university before she got through to "someone quite high up", but eventually tenacity paid off and after a "bit of a grilling on the phone from the course principal", she signed up.
Elisabeth knows she is very lucky. "Next year you'll need an A and three Bs, and it will be in the prospectus.
"Thank goodness I was advised to look at Teletext."