Arts or sciences? Humanities or engineering? Healthcare or architecture? There are so many courses to choose from, you might be having trouble deciding what subject you want to go for. But don’t panic – you’re not alone. It’s a big decision, but there’s no need to stress. Just follow these tips, and you’ll be equipped to pick the course that’s right for you.
Think about your likes and interests
Don’t make yourself study a course just because it’s popular, or because it seems “sensible”. Too many people find themselves studying subjects they hate, simply because they thought it was a good career option – even though they had no passion for it. These students usually struggle and do poorly academically, because they force themselves to spend their time learning things they don’t really care about. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
Think about what you’ve enjoyed studying so far, where your strengths are, and what you’re most keen to find out more about. It’s wise to think about career options as well, but the most fundamental thing is that you’re happy. You won’t be very chipper for your 9am lectures otherwise.
Use UCAS wisely
There are over 50,000 courses on UCAS – a bit overwhelming, yes, but it shows that there’ll definitely be one that’s just right for you. Use UCAS.com to search for courses you might be interested in, before doing your research on each one and making a shortlist.
Remember that some courses might have confusing or unfamiliar titles. Don’t be put off by a title you don’t know, or assume it means what you think it means. Investigate the course further, and check out the module descriptions. Also find out about its modes of learning – is the course mostly based on lectures, workshops, seminars, lab-based work, project work, or something else entirely? If you like a good discussion, you’ll be gutted if the entire course is based on reading books.
Collecting prospectuses is great, but really make an effort to attend college and university open days. This is the only way you’ll get a true feel for the institution you might study at. Some places host subject-specific taster days, which will help you work out what you want to study and support your application at the same time.
If you can’t attend open days, make the most of virtual tours and videos on each university or college’s website. This way you won’t be surprised by ornate, traditional architecture when you were expecting bright modern blocks.
Talk it over
If you are unsure of what you want to study, then speaking to parents, siblings and current students about their experiences can be helpful. You might want to chat to teachers about which classes you seem happiest and most invested in. But remember – it must be your decision.
Alternatives are always possible
Not everyone wants to do a traditional Bachelor’s degree course. You may wish to opt for something different, like a foundation degree or apprenticeship. There are also numerous opportunities for studying abroad.
You may not be keen on the idea of further study right now, and that’s definitely okay too. A gap year is a great chance to widen horizons and gain skills. If you feel differently in a year, you can apply for uni then – and if you don’t, you’ll have a year of life experience to bulk your CV up with.
Remember – your choice doesn’t have to be final. It’s scary committing yourself to one subject, but the decision you make now doesn’t have to restrict your future. You might study music for three years, then decide to become a lawyer. You might be a committed chemist during your degree, but then think about pursuing a career in journalism. You learn transferable skills in any course: how to collect information, how to develop certain techniques, how to present yourself, and a bunch of other highly employable abilities. So don’t feel constricted: it’s never too late to follow the right path for you.
Give yourself time, do your research, and pick a course that really excites you.
Best of luck!