What course is the course for you?
So maybe 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 the first degree, 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.
Actually, some courses may look like they’re the passport for a particular career, when really 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.
In reality though, most of us don’t have a career 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 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 the Prospects site, which will give you more info on what job certain degrees might lead to and what kind of money you could expect to make.
What about apprenticeships?
Apprenticeships are a popular choice for young people who don’t fancy the uni life, as they allow you the freedom of learning on the job — and they pay you for the privilege.
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 towards a degree qualification 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. When you’re on an apprenticeship, this may not be huge to start with.
For more info why not visit our Apprenticeships page?
LUCY HARDING is the Editorial manager for Push. She is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach
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