Our last blog was all about how to start researching university courses and some of the non academic factors to take into account. This blog is aimed at developing some top tips about choosing uni courses from an academic point of view. There are no short cuts here, and a lot of this very much depends on you, what interests you academically and what you are currently studying. Hopefully, now that you’ve had a few months in 6th form/college, you should be getting a better understanding of what your subjects are involve at A level or IB.
What topics do you find interesting?
Some self reflection about how your current studies are going is a good starting point! What are you most enjoying or not enjoying at the moment? Any surprises? How are you coping with the amount of work? The answers to these questions will start to give you some thoughts about university study.
What could you study at university?
Broadly speaking, you have 3 areas to consider at university. Do you want to carry on with a subject or two that you are currently studying? So for instance by doing a Maths or French degree. Or so you want to combine a couple of subjects in a new subject? For instance, combining chemistry and biology to do a natural sciences degree, or History and English to do an European Studies degree? The third option is to pick a completely different subject completely, which may not require any of your current subjects, for instance Criminology or Sociology? Want to find out more? https://www.ucas.com/explore/subjects and https://www.myfuturechoice.com/myunichoices/ would be great starting points.
Teaching contact time
Unlike A levels or the IB, where you are predominately in a classroom most of the time during the week, at university how you spend your time can be very different, depending on the subject. So for instance, if you are doing an English degree you will have a few lectures and seminars a week and you will spend a lot of time in self directed study. Your contact hours with lecturers won’t be very high. Alternatively, if you are doing engineering or a science based course, you will have a far higher level of staff contact, in lectures, seminars and lab based work. For some courses, you will spend a considerable amount of time out on placement, with learning objectives to meet while you are there. For courses like dentistry, medicine, teaching and social work, amongst others, you could be spending up to 50% of your time away from university. Which of these sounds best for you? How do you learn best, by being around staff and other students or being more ‘self directed’ in what you do?
Just as you will have spent a lot of time over the last couple of years being on teams/zoom, university students had the same experience. An important factor to ask universities here is how much time will be spent learning virtually. There probably won’t be a definite answer! Universities are keen to get ‘back to normal’ as much as possible. But there have been some benefits from providing online lectures – for instance, students being able to relisten to content or listen to it faster. And hopefully by the time you actually go to university, there will be some concrete answers here, for instance being able to listen back to lectures you actually went to. In all fairness, some universities offered this before the first lockdown too!
Its very easy to assume that by applying to university, you can put off the decision about your career for 3-4 years. And there is an element of truth here. But it is definitely worth thinking through what skills and knowledge your degree will give you and what career pathways it could open up. Some things will be obvious, most medical students will become doctors, a lot of marketing undergraduates will get into marketing. But did you know that a several engineering students get other careers, because of their numerate and problem solving skills? So, whilst you are going to university to study a subject because you are interested in it, it is also worth thinking about how you could use these skills and knowledge afterwards. And even non vocational subjects like History or Norse Studies will give you some excellent employability skills! History for instance produces more applicants for audit graduate schemes than most other subjects! If you want to find out more about what students use their degrees for, take a look at this https://luminate.prospects.ac.uk/what-do-graduates-do.
Here at My Uni Choices we specialise in helping students, parents & educators make the best uni choices. Review all the Universities & Courses here or discover more About Us & the best uni courses for you, finally if you’re ready let’s take The Test to help choose what uni course or degree you should do.
See more related content that can help you in your university and course search
Sign up for our email list and stay up to date with the latest info on Careers, Higher Education and what’s happening for students right now!