Choosing a course when you have no idea what you want to study (Izzy)

A levels can be so absorbing that thinking past results day seems an age away. However, it creeps up on you and all of a sudden it reaches the December before your exams and you have to choose what you want to study at university.

This is a huge decision, which you may feel totally unprepared for, but don’t worry there is a simple way of figuring out what you want to study.

Just ask yourself, what do you enjoy?

I know it sounds oversimplified, but it is that straightforward. You don’t want to start a course that you have no passion for, you just won’t get anything out of it. University is all about independent learning – that may be research, reading academic books or articles, or just sitting down at home and looking through the notes you’ve made that day. The point is, it is time consuming and it can feel strenuous, even if you enjoy your course. So picking a subject that you’re not interested in could mean that you don’t put the effort in so you won’t get the grades that you want.

Pick a course that speaks to you, where you read the course outline or look through the modules and think that it’s something you could see yourself really getting your teeth into.

It is so important to go to Open Days with an open mind. You may already have an idea of what you want to study, but have a look around the subject stands and departments. Something might jump out at you that you hadn’t expected or the subject you weren’t too keen on may sound really good when you speak to the tutor. Also bear in mind that different universities will teach the same subject in totally different ways from each other, so even if the course sounds difficult or boring at one university, it may be taught in such a way elsewhere that really inspires you.

As well as thinking about what you enjoy, think about what you’re good at. What are your academic talents?

If you’re good at something, you tend to enjoy it more because knowledge is really satisfying. So, if you’re good at writing, take a look at English or Humanities subjects. If you find it easy to write then you won’t stress about the actual essays, you can concentrate more on the content.
If you’re more mathematically minded, then look into more quantitative subjects like Maths or Accountancy, which could be really good subjects to do if numbers are your thing.

Having said all this, I don’t know your individual situation, but I hope this open-minded way of thinking helps you decide. The degree you do isn’t the be-all and end-all of your career – people can do one degree and end up having a career in a completely different sector. My mum for example did a degree in Geography and ended up having a publishing career!

Good luck with your decision 🙂

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