Choosing Your Degree
Morgan is 20 years old and in her third year of an English Literature degree at the University of Sheffield. When she’s not studying, she spends her time getting involved in various societies, including Forge Radio and the student-run Film Unit cinema.
When it’s time to choose a higher education course, many students already have an idea in mind and will stick to it, but there are also lots of students who don’t decide until later on, or who change their minds multiple times before settling on a particular degree.
I chose my A Levels to match the entry requirements for a degree in Medicine, but after sixth form started, I began to change my mind. I didn’t enjoy the A Levels I’d chosen due to the amount of maths that was involved in the subjects. Everyone around me seemed to be certain about their degree choices. I knew I no longer wanted to be a doctor, but I didn’t know about other subjects that would suit me. My first step was to change some of my A Level subjects to ones that I had enjoyed at GCSE, so I could focus on the subjects I was good at. After switching from Chemistry to English literature, I started to look at degrees that interested me, such as Law and English, but struggled to narrow down my choices.
Open days are a great way to get a feel for different universities. Many open days include taster lectures where you can see if different courses interest you. The taster lectures I attended covered topics ranging from the legality of graffiti to medieval theatre, and they all helped me narrow down my interests. If I couldn’t imagine myself sitting in a lecture and learning about the subject for three years, then I ruled it out. When choosing a degree, it’s important to pick a course that you’re interested in, rather than just picking one that other people say is good, as you’ll have to spend lots of time studying independently with only your own motivation to drive you.
After attending open days at various universities, where I would often spend half of the day looking around the Law department and the other half in the English department, I knew that English Literature was the course for me. However, not all courses are the same at every university, so I made sure to note the differences between them. A course at one university might be ideal but one with the same name at another might not suit you. How you’re assessed and what you study differ, with some universities focusing on coursework and others on exams. I chose a degree which included modern texts and authors I enjoyed, rather than one that focused on older texts I had no interest in. I narrowed down the universities by the differences in the degrees to make sure I had one that suited me.
I only decided on studying English Literature around Christmas of Year 13, much later than most of my friends. Even then, I didn’t decide on the university I wanted to go to until after that, only narrowing it down to the top five to apply to. Choosing the degree you want to do is as important as choosing the university, so you shouldn’t rush the decision. With UCAS Clearing, there are opportunities to choose your degree as late as A Level results day, or you could even take a year out after sixth form or college to decide later. There’s an unbelievable range of courses, with many I’d never heard of until I started looking at them on UCAS, so you don’t have to stick to the first degree you hear about. It’s absolutely fine to change your mind when choosing a degree, as it can help you to work out what you’re really passionate about so you can study a course that’s right for you.