With over a year to go before you apply, the whole uni decision may seem to be approaching more slowly than a slug on a Sunday. But before you know it, that gross silver slug slime could be all over you. What with all the coursework, revisions, exams, holidays, birthdays/bar mitzvahs/weddings, nights out, time spent on social media and so on, it's never too soon to get focused.
Now is a great time to be thinking about two of the big questions: what do you want to study and where do you want to study it?
First things first, choose a course you’ll be happy doing. You’re going to spend a lot of time and money on this. It might as well be something you enjoy... otherwise what’s the point? If you enjoy your course, it'll make the decision of what career you might be interested in a heck of a lot easier when the time comes.
Or, if you know the career you want, choose the course to help you get it. For some careers — being a doctor or architect, for instance — there’s a certain degree you have to study, but those jobs are the exception. Sometimes, the course that looks right isn’t even always the best one, let alone the only one.
For example, by all means take media studies if it interests you, but don’t imagine it’s a guaranteed passport to a job in TV. You might do just as well with English, politics or even sciences. Also, if you fancy yourself as a CSI type, chemistry may be at least as good as forensic science..
Most graduate jobs don’t require any specific course, which takes us back to the importance or studying something you’ll be happy with. You’ll probably also get better grades if you enjoy your studies. Having said that, if you’re after money, science-type courses do tend to offer a quicker return on your money, but who wants to earn money if it’s doing something you hate?
*Warning* Keep in mind that no two degrees are the same, even if they have the same name. Studying a history degree at Essex might be completely different from History at Exeter, just as Birmingham is very different from Brighton.
TOP TIP: The best way to see if a university is the right one for you is to visit some. Of course, you can't visit 140 but online research can help you narrow it down to a list of five or six that would be worth a visit. Most unis do a few open days a year but if you can't make it, most will accommodate visits from possible future students year-round. Many schools will allow students to take time off to go to university open days – if you haven't heard anything about it yet, it's worth asking.
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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