What course is the course for you? You go to uni to do a degree. But which one?
There’s over 17,000 different subjects you can study and more than 70,000 individual courses. You can start with what you want to do as a career. To be a doctor, you have to study medicine, for instance — which most people would agree is better than having people doing surgery just because they studied needlework.
There are some other careers where you have to study something in particular — to be an architect or vet, for instance — but they’re the exception. For some others — like law or social work — it’s not a career killer to start out by studying something else and getting the right qualifications after a first degree in something else, but studying the relevant subject is definitely the equivalent of choosing trainers instead of flip flops when you’re running the hurdles.
Then there are other careers that don’t require you to study anything in particular. In fact, here we’re talking about most careers. Sure, some subjects may give you a headstart, but getting that job will be more down to you being the right person than your course being the right one.
Some courses may look like they’re the passport for a particular career, when actually, your best route in might be something entirely different. For example, chemistry is generally at least as good a qualification to become a forensic scientist as forensic science itself.
Similarly, politics, English or languages may well get you into a job in media or journalism more directly than media studies.
However, most of us don’t have a career, a family, a mortgage, a pension and a funeral plan all sorted. That’s not a problem. All in good time. In that case, study what you love. At uni, you’ll need to be devoted to your studies to give them your best shot.
No one will be giving you a good talking to for not turning up to lectures or putting you in detention for a late essay. It’s down to you to succeed, so it really helps to study something that really shakes your pineapple. You'll study harder, study better and probably get a better result and in the end.
Best of all, you'll find yourself qualified for a career you like.
That applies even if you want to be a doctor. If you don’t enjoy studying medicine, being a doctor for the next 45 years is going to be a total splat. Choose a course you love because if you do what you love, you’ll love what you do.
Having decided on the right course for you, here are three quick tips:
1. If you’re thinking of doing a course which asks for a portfolio or examples of your work, now's the prime time to make sure you’re going to have a good selection to show.
2. Every uni wants students who're dedicated to their subject. Show your commitment by doing some volunteering or work experience placements that are relevant to your studies. Or at the very least, some reading.
3. If you've got questions about a course, phone the uni department to ask. Not only is it a good way to get the answer, it's a chance to show your enthusiasm.
If you’re still drawing a blank on what exactly you might want to do, take a look at bestCourse4me which will give you all the info you need on what job certain degrees might lead to and what kind of money you could expect to make. Alternatively, if you know what job you want, but you're not sure how you can get there, bestCourse4me can help with that too.
Once you’ve got your course down, it’s only a hop, skip and a jump to a site like Which? Uni which has everything you need to help you decide where might be best for you to study based on all kinds of wonderful things like location, grades, living costs and the social scene.
What about apprenticeships?...
From this April, big firms are going to have to put a whole heap of cash into apprenticeships, so many people predict a volcanic boom in what’s on offer and how they’re regarded by employers and the public.
Some employers and unis have even teamed up to offer apprenticeships where you get a degree at the same time. (They're helpfully called Degree Apprenticeships.) You study some of the time, but you also work and even earn money on the job.
There are apprenticeships all over the UK (especially England). They range from working in the RAF, training in accountancy to work in many of the main banks in this country.
We even found some that you might not expect to see. How about being an Aerospace Engineer, building and maintaining vehicles or satellites in space? Or a Fashion Studio Assistant or working on video games to check and fix them before they go live?
Even if you’ve decided uni's not for you, but you like the idea of moving away, apprenticeships in larger cities like London, Manchester, Leeds or Bristol might be a chance to get away. You get all the same perks of leaving home, just without the student debt.
Remember, though, you'll be paying rent which is a big cut out of your first pay cheque, which, when you’re on an apprenticeship may not be huge to start with.
A ray of light in the uncertain times surrounding news of Carillion, construction giant's liquidation: the government has announced that the 1,400 apprentices left without a job or course security will be supported in search for employers to continue their placements with.
Many young people were left unsure of their futures since the news that Carillion, the UK's largest construction apprentice employer, was dissolving, but things are now looking up.
If you read anything in a tabloid newspaper, you'd think that the young people of today are nothing but delicate little "snowflakes" – offended by everything, right down to the ever-rising price of avocados.
You only have to talk to a real-life young person to know that's not the case. An entire university study has been dedicated to the idea of Generation Snowflake, and you won't be surprised to find that it's an exaggerated, over-generalised load of nonsense.
Okay, maybe not the avocado part. C'mon, we've got to have some nice things.
Researches from the University of Leeds' Institute for Teaching interviewed 55 undergrads as part of their study into student resilience, and had another 185 complete survey questionnaires.
Students were asked what they thought about the snowflake generation - students who were "quick to take offence and too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own", and also the idea of 'trigger-warnings' - where individuals are notified of potentially distressing content before being exposed to it.
Surprisingly, large numbers of students hadn't even heard of the term 'snowflake generation' or even 'trigger-warnings', and if they were aware of the concept, it wasn't usually in terms of education and more in terms of internet use.
Rather than the negative associations, where 'trigger-warnings' are viewed as a form of censorship, the participating students largely agreed that the warnings allowed them to be prepared for potentially disturbing content, rather than choosing not to engage with it at all.
Overall, the participants "were likely to say that they could see some truth in ['snowflake generation'], but that it was an unfair, sweeping label for an eclectic group of people."
We're sure over the past year you’ve heard the abbreviation VR thrown about at just about any announcement of a new tech device. VR stands for Virtual Reality and it’s starting to creep into our lives whether you want it to or not. Now the question is, will virtual reality change how we gain soft skills?
It's not all about getting a good enough job to get by, or even to just start making a dent in those hefty students loans. But that should be fairly obvious, right? No point studying for 3+ extra years, only to fall into a job that's completely the wrong fit.
If it's not for you, chances are you won't like it. And if you don't like it, chances are you won't be able to force yourself to get up and go to it every morning for all that long.
We've all heard it, right? The dreaded millennial Catch-22: to get experience, you need a job. To get a job, you need experience.
Unsurprisingly, high numbers of young people in the UK go through long unpaid placements, internships and work experience programmes to gain the experience required for their first full-time job.
This may seem like an inevitable link in the career chain, but for many, unpaid internships are a pretty crappy thing. Primarily, unpaid placements work only on the basis that you have significant savings to support you while you're working for (optimistically) experience, or (pessimistically) nothing.
Not to scare you or anything, but today, January 15th, is a pretty darn important deadline. That's right, it's D-Day.
And the cut off is at 6pm.
If you've already got your UCAS application in, congrats, you're on the ball and we applaud your organisational skills. You may burn this message after reading, unless you'd like to keep the info safe in the off-chance you don't get the acceptance offers we know you deserve this time around.
If you're hoping to start university in 2018, and haven't yet submitted your UCAS application, now is the time to act – and panic slightly, but only if that's going to motivate you. No headless chickens here, please.
A pretty cool article by the Telegraph has analysed new data from UCAS, which found that last year, half the students embarking on their journey into university were the first in their family to do so.
This is the first time on record that the number of students with non-academic parents has matched the number of those from advantaged, academic backgrounds.
If you've already started your uni career, you now know that textbooks are the necessary evil that slash at your alcoholic beverage budget. If you're just about to start, let us tell you now: you've got to pay for these bad boys all by yourself and they're nothing to laugh about.
Sometimes lecturers have a reading list as long as your arm, and borrowing from the library just won't cut it when there's 60 of you clamouring for the single dogeared copy of Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction.
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We're always interested to hear from talented young writers, so if you'd like to feature as a guest author then hit us up for more details.