Ten weeks in and the cracks are beginning to show. One person has dropped out and gone home, and there are others who aren’t enjoying the academic side of things. It’s hard to admit that you are on the wrong course when you have committed so much to it; money, friendships and yes, a little bit of pride. Now is the time that some people are reflecting on their decisions and wondering if they are, in fact, on the right course.
The good news is that with some insight and groundwork, you can give yourself the best chance of landing in a University and course that are right for you. There are no guarantees, but answering the following questions will give you a better chance of being in the right place at the right time.
First and foremost, are you ready for University? In general, we grow up a lot from the ages of 18 to 21 and there is published evidence that students who take a gap year may do better than those who go straight to University, particularly where A level results are less good. If you have any doubts about it, resist the temptation to rush straight in to University life on the wave of everyone else’s expectations. A gap year gives you the chance to have new experiences and you can think over your options before heading back into full time education. Everyone I know who has done this says that it was worthwhile.
If you are confident that you are ready, the next question is what you should study. Ask yourself: What do I enjoy learning? This may not be the same as the subject you get the best results for in exams. If you have always wanted to be a Vet, Midwife, Lawyer or Doctor that’s great, but for most of us the choice of course is less obvious. Whilst statistics for future career prospects are relevant, you are more likely to graduate with a decent degree if your subject fascinates you.
Next on the list is where you should go to study; a question that is more important than you might think. Whatever your choice of subject, there will be variation in how it is provided by Universities, usually based on the research interests of the faculty. You will find information on University web sites but nothing beats going to Open Days. This not only gives you a feel for how your subject will be taught, it introduces you to the unique characteristics of each University such as size, location, social life and facilities. Whatever you think that you are looking for, experiencing it for a day will tell you whether it is the right fit for you.
If you feel ready for that next step in your education, know what you want to study and have fallen in love with a University (or three), the rest is up to you. Good luck!