This month, we’re gonna take it one step back. The stage before studying begins, the pre-studying era, if you will. That is, choosing what to study. Quite possibly the most stressful academic choice you will ever make, other than selecting a university, is actually choosing what to study.
Whether it be selecting your GCSEs, A Levels, college course, or university degree, with education being so diverse and offering so many more options nowadays, it can be quite hard to decide.
What makes it hardest, I feel, is that by the age of 14 when we chose our GCSEs, people seem to expect us to have our future all mapped out so we can “chose the subjects you need later in life”. Well, let me tell you now, I’m 19, at university, and still question whether I’m going to use the psychology degree I’m paying £9k a year for once I (hopefully) graduate, or whether I’m just going to leave uni in 3 years’ time, adopt a ton of shelter cats, and become a crazy cat lady instead. Tough call. Obviously, very few of us have a solid idea at 14 what we want to do with our lives, and so I recommend trying to take a broad range of subjects. For example, don’t just chose all the sciences, try maybe one or two sciences, with a creative arts subject, and a social science too. That way, when it comes to choosing your future path, you’re better equipped to adapt.
Now, this one is more likely to only apply to further and higher education, as GCSE often gives us options we have never tried before, but try and chose something you enjoy and perform well in. Obviously at GCSE, you can read the prospectus your school offers, or ask teachers for information about the course to try and get an idea as to whether you will find the subject interesting, however at education beyond this level, you should already have an idea of what subjects you really enjoy and shine in. As much as I hate to say it though, make sure you balance these two factors, If you really love a subject, but it is not tailored to your skills and you don’t perform well in it, reconsider a similar subject instead. Unfortunately, in today’s society, we cannot escape our grades when it comes to employment, and as unfair as it is, for many well-playing professions, our grades do define us. Therefore, don’t jeopardise this by choosing a subject you know you won’[t do so great it. On the flip side of this, don’t chose a subject you dislike just because it’s easy. Boy, the amount of times I have heard people say “I chose *insert subject here* because its easy and I’m basically guaranteed an A” then witness them walk away with a failing grade because they hated the subject, didn’t put effort in, and just expected the grade to be handed to them on a silver platter. You’ve still got to work for it, and so make sure it is something you are willing to work for.
Finally, if you decide to go to university, then I strongly recommend you chose a subject that you have previously studied or have studied closely related subjects. Even though for many courses, the first year is considered the ‘catch up’ year for pupils who have not previously studied the subject, the content is so heavy and quick paced, that if I had come to this course without a previous understanding of basic psychology, then I’d be rocking in the corner of the lecture hall crying constantly. Of course, we all learn at different paces, and this is not to say you aren’t capable, but even if it’s just reading a few textbooks over the summer break before university, really do chose something you are passionate about and already have an understanding of. The last thing I need is more people crying in the corner of the room; I’ve reserved that space for me next year.