Deciding which degree to choose is probably the most important decision you will have made by this stage of your education.
It feels like there are so many different options to choose from and so many potential directions in which you could take the next stage of your life. However, choosing your degree is, in fact, relatively simple. There are a series of questions that you should ask yourself in order to make the right decision.
1. What do I enjoy studying?
A degree is the perfect opportunity to explore a subject (or subjects) that you are passionate about in greater detail. Therefore it’s worth asking yourself: What do I enjoy studying? It could be one of the sciences, a humanity, a language or, if you really can’t choose, you could do a joint honours degree and study two degrees (in lesser detail) concurrently. Be careful though to ensure that the institutions to which you are applying allow the combination of subjects you want to study.
2. What am I good at?
Degrees are all about passion, especially at Oxbridge where a large part of the interview process is designed to test whether you are ready for the intensive study of a subject. However, if you are not passionate about any potential degree then your next best bet is to decide on your strengths. A degree should be fun and intellectually stimulating but you also want to leave with a good classification so playing to your strengths is important too.
3. Have I done my research?
You may think you have found the perfect degree at the university you want to attend but have you really done your research? The same degree can vary hugely from institution to institution. Take English, for example. At one university, it may be predominantly studied from a linguistic perspective and at another university from a literary or historical one. At one institution the scope of the literature may only date back to William Blake or Shakespeare and at another university back to the medieval period. Obviously a balance must be reached between the credibility of the institution and the intricacies of the course but always check the syllabus to make a well-informed decision.
4. Have I considered all the options?
It is easy to think that your choice of degree is limited to what you have studied during your final years at school. Try to think outside the box. However, there are many options beyond the usual school subjects that may better suit your skillset and interests. If you were interested in Religious Studies at school, consider Theology or Philosophy; if you enjoyed English, consider Creative Writing; and if you are interested in several subjects, there may well be a suitable course that combines all of your interests.
5. What do I want to be when I’m older?
Often the answer to this is I don’t know or even if you do have some idea, it may be subject to change. That’s only natural at this stage and really doesn’t matter. However, if you are sure of your future career path, then maybe a vocational degree is for you. A vocational degree like law and medicine is a big commitment and requires a level of certainty regarding your long-term future.
The most important thing to remember when choosing a degree is that there are endless possibilities and the more research you can do, the more informed your final decision will be.
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