Applying to university can be an exciting time — starting the next stage of your life and shaping your future so you can pursue a career you’re both interested in and good at. Some of us apply to university later in life, with a 15 per cent growth shown in UK students over the age of 35 last year. But what about those of us who’re not exactly sure what careers are out there or that are right for us? With two thirds of school leavers guided down the university route by parents and teachers, how many of us know what course we’d excel in?
More applicants than ever before were accepted onto both undergraduate and postgraduate university courses last year —Business and admin courses were the most popular options, tempting 72,135 students, likely due to the average salaries reported after graduation. However, salary shouldn’t be your sole focus. Although it is important, you should choose something you’ll excel in. This article will look into the best ways to choose a course at university that suits your desires and skillset.
How do I choose a university subject?
Firstly, you should evaluate what you want from university. If you’re studying your A-levels or are at college, the prospect of studying one subject for several years can be intimidating — that’s why it’s important to study a subject you won’t get tired of. Don’t choose a subject because you think you should or because it’s what your friends are doing.
What are your interests day to day? Have you considered that this could be part of a job role? Perhaps you enjoy dealing with numbers or have a particular interest for reading the news and finding out information? You could pursue data analysis or journalism. Assessing your interests and comparing them to careers like this is highly beneficial. UCAS’s subject guide is worth looking at, condensing what the subject entails, entry requirements, paths you can take, and what you can do with a relevant degree in that subject.
If you’re stuck between two subjects, explore whether these two courses are combined as a joint honours programme, which can be useful in giving students a broader education.
Should I do extra research?
Absolutely! Researching as much as you can about your subject of interest will help you make the most informed decision about your future — that’s pretty important!
With the information you’re equipped with from above, explore career platforms such as LinkedIn to see what’s out there that piques your interest. What qualifications will you need? Will postgraduate study be essential for you to stand out in a competitive jobs market? What sector sounds most appealing? Will you need a portfolio? Will there be an interview? Does the sector have potential for you to progress? Will that career be obsolete in a few years from automation? These are questions you should be asking yourself. Try and answer them as best as you can so you’re aware of the hurdles you’ll need to overcome.
Should I attend open days?
University open days can be particularly useful in helping confirm if a subject is right for you. Not only will you get to see the university campus yourself, but you’ll get to speak to potential lecturers and alumni that can give you real world insight into the subject. The modules and degree content can be explained to you, what variations of the course there are, if you have the option to study abroad or take on a placement, how useful previous students found the content in relation to their career, and if they enjoyed it.
Maybe you’re a natural whiz at exams, or you find that your assignments are always well written and backed up with research. Find out how the course is assessed, or what your final year project will include. This will be important in how well you’ll do at university.
With so many important factors giving you a lot to think about, from which university to financial support, make the right decision with the subject you’re studying.