At 17 years old having just finished your first year of A Levels you are suddenly faced with a whole array of questions. What degree should I study? Which university? What career path should I take? We have all asked ourselves these questions at some point. But how can you possibly begin to make these life changing decisions?
What subjects are you good at or enjoy?
Most students choose a degree that they will enjoy. Given that they are committing three years of their lives to studying this subject, it’s not hard to see why! However, finding a subject “fun” and having a talent for that subject do not necessarily go hand-in hand. Most large employers require a minimum of an Upper Second Class Honours degree. So consider this when making your decision; it’s okay to choose a subject you find fun, as long as you are also good at it!
Where do you want to work?
A major concern for many students is being unaware of the career path they wish to pursue once they complete university. Having an idea in mind of an ultimate goal so you can channel your efforts more efficiently and productively is useful if you want to pursue a career in a field which requires a specific degree such as architecture or medicine, but most degrees provide an array of transferable skills which can still keep your options open. Below we outline some examples of such degrees.
Mathematics is “the language of the universe” and an extremely valuable degree. Maths will certainly develop your analytical and problem solving skills and provide solid foundations for a career spanning many industries, including business, banking and research.
Engineering is derived from mathematics and thus shares very similar attributes. Engineering provides more practical aspects, splitting into civil, mechanical, chemical, electrical and aerospace.
Economics is a very effective way to enter the financial industry, as it demonstrates the required interest in this area. Though a broad and highly theoretical subject, an Economics degree from a strong university is highly valued.
Law is an intensive degree and probably holds the record for the greatest volume of required reading! With the number of training contracts significantly lower than Law students, it is clear that not every Law graduate will become a solicitor or barrister. However, there are many other careers for Law graduates including compliance, paralegal, legal executive and human resources.
Psychology, whilst not as technical and “accurate” as mathematics or engineering, will definitely enhance your soft skills and provide deep understanding of the human mind. Individuals are not the same “function” and psychology is extremely important in human decision-making, businesses and corporations.
Combinations of different subjects are also very popular – many students study a language alongside their main degree. Languages greatly increase employability, with many recruiters seeking out graduates with a second language.
Location and quality of University?
Generally, there is no conflict on which Universities are a good option – Russell Group universities are always a strong choice. Degrees are often of a higher quality, due to larger amounts of funding. They also have developed networks with banks and large corporations, thus giving them an edge over other institutions. Oxbridge of course, will definitely provide a stepping stone with prestige, especially for more closed industries such as Law. When choosing a University though, the strength of each University within a given subject needs to be taken into account. Both the Times and The Guardian provide statistics every year. These should be taken with a pinch of salt though! Rankings are heavily based on student satisfaction, which is biased. Thorough research into employability prospects is needed to comprehend the true “quality” of a degree.
Looking at the big picture, the business world is continually changing and business needs are forever adapting to new processes and demands. As a result, so does education. There is no right or wrong answer as to which degree you should choose. However, it is ideal to select a degree based on your academic strengths so you can invest your passion and commitment to the subject area and seek the best results. Continuous education should also be considered. For example, your educational portfolio may require accredited chartered qualifications, especially for the legal, investment and accounting profession. There are also hundreds of industry related courses and work experience programs to be explored. Additionally, to your education, you may also consider extracurricular activities to add to your university experience, for example joining a student union, sports teams, charities and support groups. Whatever you choose, remember all degrees provide the opportunity for you to develop and advance your expertise, your organisational skills, team work abilities, time management and commitment to complete all necessary tasks. Everything you get involved with provides you with a new experience, so enjoy the ride!
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” - Mark Twain