For a female all-rounder good at mathematics, school-teaching seemed the only career open, but was barred by her deafness. A magazine article suggesting industrial analytical chemistry as a career for girls led to her choice of study. She was advised that the Heriot-Watt College gave better laboratory training than the University, but an industrial chemist told her father ‘I wish to God I had a university degree’. In 1917 she found she could combine a three-year university course in chemistry with a four-year diploma course at the Heriot-Watt, subject to provisos about ancillary subjects, and examinations to be passed.
Because of the war the three-term courses at the University were compressed into two terms, creating a very heavy workload, exacerbated by the hearing problems, but in spite of this she produced first or good second class results throughout. She was always first in chemistry at the Heriot-Watt, but was warned that at the University there were always some brainy men at the top. She made no comment, but won the class medal. She graduated BSc with special distinction and gained a Vans Dunlop Scholarship, giving her the means to undertake research for a higher degree.