Choosing the right University course for you
Choosing the right subject and the right course to study at University is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in life. Having recently transferred from one Masters’ degree course at Sheffield Hallam to another, this is something that’s been on my mind a lot recently. How do we go about choosing the right course? How do we know it’s the right decision? What do we do if it turns out we aren’t happy on the course? I wanted to put together a few tips for choosing the right course for you, and for what happens if you feel that you’re on the wrong course.
Consider your interests and aspirations
Firstly, think about what your interests are, what your strengths are and where you want your career path to lead. If you’re not sure, think about your previous studies and consider which subjects you enjoyed and which you were good at. Once you’ve done that, think about where your interests and skills could take you. Maybe you’re good at writing, enjoyed English at school and want to study creative writing but, does this align with your career goals? Could you have the career you want without gaining a University level qualification?
Do your research
Check out University league tables like The Guardian and The Times to find out which Universities are top for your chosen subject area. Then look at various University websites and see what courses they have on offer; any University website has a search tool that allows you to search by subject area or keyword. If there are quite a few courses at different Universities jumping out at you, make yourself a list of ones to consider further. Universities all have some sort of system for ordering a prospectus as well, in some cases it will just be a simple process of providing your email address, but some Universities like to allow you to personalise your prospectus by choosing which subjects you are interested in and then sending you a prospectus with information on just those subjects – saving you time in the long run and saving trees!
Go to Open Days
University open days are a great way to get first-hand information from academics and students on courses you might be interested in. It’s also a great way to experience the look and feel of the University campus that you’ll be spending a lot of time at, you’re able to explore the facilities the University offers – even taking a peek around halls and meet lots of student ambassadors and staff around the campus as well.
Final decision and application
Your applications will go through the traditional UCAS system which always sounds scary but is a pretty simple process once you’ve started. If you’re at college or sixth form, don’t forget you’ve always got careers councillors and tutors to ask for any help with your application. Writing your personal statement can seem daunting as well but, focus on why you want to go to University and why you’ve chosen the course/s you’ve applied for. And that’s that! You can focus on your studies once more and then enjoy the summer before you start at University! Check out the UCAS website for more advice on choosing your course, University and completing your application.
First few weeks at University
Starting University is a massive change. Even if you’re a commuting student or mature student, everybody is in the same boat of meeting lots of new people, finding their way around campus and settling into their course. On my undergraduate degree, I’d had a year out of education and had changed my mind about which University to attend and which course to do before coming to Sheffield Hallam so, I was confident in the choice I’d made and excited to get started. I never had any doubt in my mind that I was doing the right course. However, not everybody has the same experience. And now that I’ve started postgraduate study, I know what this feels like.
In September I started a Master’s degree in Arts and Cultural Management however, a couple of weeks in, I still felt like I wasn’t really settling in. I kept giving it more time for things to come together but, I ended up considering other courses to see if I could swap. If not, I also considered leaving University for now and coming back to it at a later stage. Thankfully I did find a course I was interested in and managed to speak to my then course leader and my new course leader and make the switch. I’m now studying MA Journalism and feel right at home. Saying it like that makes it sound very straightforward and it certainly felt more complicated at the time but, the support I received from tutors and support staff at the University made things a lot easier.
So the reason and rhyme behind this blog post is pretty simple – although I know I’ve come at it in a roundabout way. All I’m trying to say is, don’t panic if you’ve gone through all the decisions and the process of finding the right course and then when you start it, it doesn’t feel right. It happens. And you’re not stuck in that situation. It’s just a case of figuring out what you want to do instead and getting the support and advice you need to do it. I know it sounds easy but in reality is more complicated – it was like that for me as well but, it will get sorted.
For more help and advice you can always speak directly to your course leader, as well as the student support services team for your faculty.