It may have been easier for university applicants a few generations ago, where students had a clearer sense that they were heading into a profession for life. For most of us however, the choice can be bewildering. Advancements in Information Technology and globalisation have opened up seemingly limitless possibilities for career surfing. The age of retirement is rising and our working lives will consequently be longer; this can leave us baffled when it comes to choosing what course to study.
So let’s look at some possibilities:
Art, architecture and other arts subjects such as English Literature can feel like a gamble. Unlike Business and Management Degree courses or Marketing Degree courses, they don’t necessarily lead straight into a clearly defined job. The re-introduction of university fees can tend to put students off selecting a course that may not guarantee them a well-paid job at the other side. Don’t let this put you off. Studying the arts opens up new, inspiring ways of thinking about the world, and deepens our understanding of life. If you have talents in these subject areas, university will give you the opportunity to really explore, develop and deepen your ideas. Similarly, studying Journalism and Media will put you at the cutting edge of current affairs in the wider context of political, cultural and social change.
The STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics all offer vast career opportunities in a world whose future is defined by revolutionary advances in macro and micro-scale engineering and the multi-billion pound Information Technology industry. The career possibilities here are limitless, but there is still a noticeable gender imbalance between males and females in these subject areas.
Humanities and the social sciences are a wonderful subject area for anyone who is curious about human evolution, cultural and social behaviour, and how ideologies develop. A Law degree can open up a career in a myriad of areas all intricately linked with aspects of modern living: property law, corporate law, family law, etc.
And if you consider yourself to be a ‘people person’, other options are open to you:
Medicine, Nursing and Paramedical courses (e.g. pharmacology or physiotherapy) will all set you up on a career in the healing arts, potentially running your own private physiotherapy clinic if you prefer the prospect of being self-employed. Subject areas such as hospitality and tourism are perfect for students who are highly organised and who enjoy interacting with people from diverse cultures.
If you want to progress, you need to demonstrate a true sense that you are animated and inspired by your subject choice. Look at how the course is assessed and how that matches with your academic strengths and weaknesses. If exams suspend you in a month-long panic attack, it would be better to consider courses that are assessed through practical work and coursework. How are your essay writing skills? Will you write a dissertation in your final degree year? Will you need professional help with your research and writing assignments? The earlier you start to tackle these considerations, the better. That way you will be able to reach your highest potential and enjoy every day of your studies.