What I wish I knew when I was choosing my degree…

…by Leila / from Zimbabwe / studied Archaeology & Anthropology / completed her PhD in 2016

So, the end of School is fast approaching, and you have to make a choice: what degree am I going to do? It’s overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of courses across the country. For a lucky few, the answer to this question is obvious; they’ve always excelled in Maths or French and know that they will continue on this track. But for most of us, finishing school and choosing a degree is a daunting task. You have to make a choice and you want it to be the right one. Today, months away from finishing my PhD in social anthropology, I am going to share with you the top four things I wish I had known when choosing my degree:

It has to be the right choice for YOU!

Not for your parents, or your grandmother, or your mates. Choose something that inspires you because even if you don’t continue with it as a career, it will still shape the way you think for the rest of your life.

Research the course and not the university

What will you actually be reading or doing? What topics will you be covering? How many contact hours will you get? When you read about courses you’re considering, do you feel inspired and curious? Some universities are ranked very highly but are not very good for particular courses and vice versa – find out! Go online and read student blogs. Look at student satisfaction surveys and not just university research rankings.

Attend open days

Pick your top university choices and attend their open days. This will give you a feel for the university, the department and the city. Ask questions and speak to the students.

Remember this is not make or break

Of all my friends during my undergraduate degree, I am the only one who actually continued with my subject area. They studied Politics, Sociology, or English Literature and went on to a wide range of careers: a successful business woman, a social worker, a journalist, and a sculptor. In some ways this is one of the most important decisions in your life. In other ways, it doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you enjoy it. The best you can do is choose something that feels right for you at the time.

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