Which Degree should you do? The one you want to!
I remember every single time someone said it to me, when I would tell them I really, really disliked my degree. All the times I would consider quitting, the same sentence would be uttered, burned into my memory with its regularity:
“Stick with it. Law is a brilliant degree. The world will be your oyster when you finish.”
And, so I did. Every time. Three years did I endure of a subject that, up until that point, I’d not really had any interest in. Three years of wishing I’d chosen something else, convincing myself that it would all be worth it in the end. Three years of hard work… very, very hard work, of which I struggled to maintain little, if any, interest in. As of July last year, it was all over, and now it was time to go out into this unknown world that was, apparently, my oyster. So, at the epilogue of my three years of study, I wonder: was it all worth it? No, not really. For here I sit, nearly seven months on, still unemployed.
Do I feel conned? A little. Do I feel like I wasted my time? A tad. Am I bitter at the advice constantly given to me, dictating I do not pursue the media orientated degree I wanted to do and instead get the “best” degree I could? I’d be lying if I said no. My story is the perfect example of a situation summed up simply: I picked the wrong degree, and now feel I have nothing to show for it.
The brutal and honest truth, I’m afraid, is that employers will no longer love your CV just because you happen to have letters after your name. What they are looking for are sparks in other areas. Practical experience in a working environment. Volunteering stories that can set you apart from the Joe Blogs in after you. That clichéd X Factor proving you are the right person for a job and not just the one with the right qualifications. After all, your entire Uni class is walking through the door to an interview with the same certificate to their name. The secret is what else you can bring to the role.
So, why then do we continue to study at University? Because it’s the done thing, isn’t it? After all, we were taught from a very early age that staying in education as long as possible is the best way forward. Thus, at the age of 18, thrilled at the prospect of adulthood and finishing school, we pick ourselves a degree to study. A decision that seemingly everyone has something to say about.
There are A LOT of courses out there. Some are great, some are OK and some are… well, I’m sure David Beckham studies is at least a very amusing way to spend 27 grand. But before you go ahead and pick the most impressive looking one, ask yourself a fundamental question: do you really want to study this for three years?
Take a look at your interests. Look at the A-Levels you are studying now. Debate the ones you are strongest in, and which you find the most interesting. Then, look at said degree. Does it really fit with who you are, as a person? If the answer is yes, then get yourself to a decent University, and the best of luck to you! If the answer is no, I would suggest a serious re-think. No matter how good you may feel that degree would look as an added label to your name, it’s just not worth forcing yourself into something you do not like.
The truth is, by deliberately choosing an area of study you are not going to enjoy and connect with, you are being counterproductive. In the very best situation, getting yourself the best grade you can get will be much more difficult considering you hold no interest in what you study. At the worst, you can end up feeling very down about the whole University experience in general, wishing you’d put much more thought into this decision only one year prior.
At 18, only a small few truly know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Many do degrees simply because they have been told it’s the done thing, choosing University life over the frankly appalling job market. This can lead to hasty decisions, brought on by a want to make themselves as employable as possible. After all, someone with a Law degree is instantly more employable than someone with a degree in History, right? Wrong. The brutal truth is that a degree, no matter how prestigious, is not going to be the only thing to open doors for you. It is something you need to do by yourself. By achieving the best grades you can. By putting yourself out there, getting some work experience and proving how brilliant you really are.
So, the next time someone encourages you into a degree you are unsure of, simply because it looks better than the degree you prefer, have a serious think. It’s your career, your three plus years of hard work. Put everything you’ve got into a subject you love and get yourself on the employment ladder in its area when you’re done, or tackle a subject you will end up hating and, potentially, end up being even further from your dream job than you would have been if you just stayed out of University. It’s your choice.
I forced myself into finishing a degree I hated, and it has gotten me nowhere. Do not make the same mistake. Pick a degree in something you will be interested in, or else you are just wasting your time. You can either do what is expected of you, or you can do what you want to do. At the end of the day, who’s better off?