What if I’ve picked the wrong degree?

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My little sister is currently scraping her way to the end of a very long dark university tunnel, aka final exams, and it’s got me thinking and reminiscing about when I was in that same situation, just 3 years ago.

Except, for me personally, it wasn’t a feeling of immense relief that I had studied hard and reached the end of the road. Instead, it was a feeling that I had wasted 3-years studying something that I wasn’t 100% sure had ever been the right thing.

Well, I am writing to you today with the delightful gift of hindsight. Because, I Rachel Hallett, absolutely 100% chose the wrong degree to study at university. But I wanted to share with you why that was actually a good thing, and what to do if you’re feeling like you’re stuck in the same boat:

So how did I end up doing the wrong thing?

Well, my main gripe with the whole university system is that I was allowed to pick what I wanted to do at 17. My dumb-ass didn’t even know how to boil an egg or brush my hair, let alone choose my entire pathway for the rest of my life.

I had applied for ‘Psychology’ at Nottingham, dropped a grade and basically called up all the universities throughout clearing and grabbed the first thing I could take.

I was desperate to go, I didn’t think things through clearly and I also thought that ‘Sociology and Criminology’ sounded fairly interesting. I didn’t take time to research, to career prep or to really think things through. So, I ended up in this situation through being too impulsive and too eager.

So I guess my advice at this point? Don’t make rash decisions. Talk to adults. Try and drive your choice through your head, rather than your desire for independence.

But, what if you’ve thought that you were going to love something- and you turn out to be wrong…?

If you’re in your first year

I am very much not a quitter. I try to do things that make me happy, but I also hate being the person to give up on things the second I’m not 100% sure about them. I knew that my course wasn’t the perfect thing for me after my first term. I did dabble with changing and going to talk to my tutors about it, but things like alcohol and my new boyfriend and going out… well, at the time they all seemed so much more important.

If I could offer some advice to other people, if you’re having doubts in your first term. SAY IT. I know several people who swapped courses, dropped parts of what they were studying and made a change early enough, that they didn’t miss out on any of the vital course details.

The other thing was the friends I made. I met a group of 10/10 humans, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to leave my course and them. Silly really, but it was a decision that I made!

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If you’re in your second year

I actually tried to swap to a Psychology degree in my second year of university. After spending a summer trying to evaluate my options, I thought that it would be worth giving it a shot. They offered me the choice, but I’d have to start from square 1 and do 4-years at university, rather than 3.

I’m not sure how it would pan out for other people, but I decided not to go with that.

Instead my advice at this point would be to try and get as much relevant work experience as you possibly can. I wanted to either be a counsellor or work in a magazine at this point, so I got myself some time at Women’s Health, I wrote for Pretty52 and the Guardian, I emailed a million people, I read hundreds of blogs and books (I started my first blog at this point) and I learned that success doesn’t come easy, and you can amp-up your CV by putting the legwork in.

If you’re graduating or looking for a job

Right, congratulations- you did a Rach! We both made it to the end of the road, whilst not really enjoying the ride. Agh.

But have no fear! I was there as well, and do you know what I learned? The actual degree you do, doesn’t really matter. (Unless you’re doing a vocational job or becoming a surgeon, but I’m talking generally)

Shit, yes. Shocking. But if I’m being brutally honest, what I did at university has had absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the jobs that I’ve got interviews for.

I decided to do my MA in Journalism to specialise ever so slightly, but from my brief 2-3 year stint in full-time work, every single one of my colleagues has done completely random things, and yet we all work in the same place.

I work in digital marketing, I didn’t do an English degree, I didn’t study marketing or business…

My closest colleague did English, I work with an engineer, a computer scientist, a history grad..

All of us worked damn hard, got a decent qualification and have ended up where we are.

So don’t despair altogether! Things will work out!

So, hopefully that’s helped a few people out! If you’re looking for any university or MA advice, I’m more than happy to help! Just drop me a comment.

Rach

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