UCAS to University – My Journey to an Earth Science degree
By Lindsay, Geology and Physical Geography
If you’re anything like me, trying to decide what courses to apply for through UCAS was a STRUGGLE. I knew I wanted to get a degree whilst I had the time and didn’t have to worry about the financial burden, however, I had no clue what I actually wanted to do. In my last year of school, everyone else seemed to have an idea of at least a broad subject area… and then there was me who was trying to decide between a chemistry, geography, neuroscience or some other mildly interesting degree.
So how did I end up doing an Earth Science degree when that wasn’t even on my list?
I had attended a few open days already, where I listened into talks for both Chemistry and Geography. Although I enjoyed them, I couldn’t decide what one was best for me over the other. My personal statement was due in a couple of days and I hadn’t even started it. I ended up at the open day for The University of Edinburgh and noticed they were doing some example lectures, so I decided I might as well go to one and see what it would be like, even if I decided not to go to Edinburgh. My options were either a Law, English Lit or Earth Science lecture – you can imagine the one I ended up choosing… I came out of that lecture realising there was a subject area I had never considered that had a bit of both the Chemistry and Geography that I was looking for!
I went home, typed up my personal statement and applied for Geology and Physical Geography at Edinburgh, and the rest is history.
But I have no experience in Geology or Earth Science so I don’t know if it’s right for me
Earth Science was never a degree that was really mentioned through my time at High School, yet, it is probably one of the best ones to take if you’re interested in Geography, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Maths and many more subject areas. The broad range of topics you can study and the variety of courses means that you can tailor your degree and university experience to suit your interests.
Starting a course such as Geology is quite different, especially if you’re like me and didn’t even know it was an actual subject that people took in high school, let alone a degree. It’s not like Maths or English where you can build on prior knowledge and honestly that was something I really liked. Almost everyone started off on the same foot and using knowledge from other subject areas such as Geography and Chemistry the information began to piece together.
One thing to remember is that since the degrees in Scotland are 4 years for the Honour courses, then you have 2 years where you can try out different subject areas. In my first year, I took one of the Geography degree electives just in case Earth Science didn’t work out. Thankfully, I didn’t need to use this, but I could have just as easily taken a course in Chemistry, Archology, History, Maths… you get the picture. Basically, even when you get to university and you have ‘chosen’ your degree, it is not set in stone. There is some wiggle room to switch between programmes and you can explore your interests.
All in all, the advice I would give to anyone still unsure about what to choose for their degree is to pick something that you enjoy. If you are going to be spending 4 or 5 years studying something then you might as well enjoy it. Lots of people feel pressured by family, friends or just other people in general, to pick a degree based on the money you can make and the bragging rights associated with it but remember that it is not these people who need to spend the weekends studying, write the essays or lab reports or spend 4 or 5 years of their life (and beyond if you decide to get a job in the sector) doing the subject.
By choosing a degree in a subject that you think you will enjoy, the information you are learning is going to seem a lot more interesting and you will (probably) end up with a better degree by the end of it.
Good luck to anyone still deciding what to do! You got this!
If you’ve read this and think Earth Science may be for you too, then have a look at our degrees, where you can learn more about what The University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences has to offer: https://www.ed.ac.uk/geosciences/study/degrees