If you’re a current A level student, everyone’s soon asking you what you want to study at university. Here are some suggestions for narrowing down your options:
What do you enjoy?
Think about which of your current A level subjects you most enjoy, and rank them in a list. Looking at your favourite subjects, are there ways you could combine them in a degree – e.g. if you like both Biology and Chemistry, then maybe Biochemistry or Medicinal Chemistry?
Remember that you will be studying this for 3+ years, so go for something you are genuinely passionate about rather than what you/ your parents think will be best career-wise. Most jobs are available to applicants from any degree subject, and STEM degrees in particular are highly employable due to the wider transferable skills you’ll gain!
How do you learn best?
Consider whether you would prefer a more theoretical or practical based course – e.g. if you really love physics, would you rather go into engineering or astrophysics? Have a look into the degree courses available, how they are structured, the ratio of lab projects to exam courses, and whether they include practical placements or projects.
If you much prefer hands-on courses rather than theory, consider also looking at apprenticeship options as well as the standard degree route.
Consider broader STEM subjects
Check out this article on STEM subjects you may not have met at school – don’t just limit yourself to the core science subjects! Have a flick through university prospectuses to see if other courses would interest you too.
Many universities run taster days to try out degree subjects for a day, you can easily search for these on the database.
There are also plenty of ways you can explore your interest in a subject for free from home – and these can not only give you an insight into whether you would like to study it at university or not, but also be great personal statement fodder!
Hear from current students
Once you’ve identified a handful of potential subjects, read up around them. Look online at course descriptions and blogs, read related magazines and books, and if possible try and get in touch with current students for these subjects to discuss what their experiences are – this could be through a university or an online forum such as the student room.
A final note…
Don’t feel rushed to make a decision – it may seem like all your friends have their life planned out, but in fact everyone is still figuring things out. It’s often better to take a gap year to give yourself time to work out what you most enjoy, rather than wasting a year and £9000 on a course you don’t enjoy.
Alternatively, consider more flexible degree courses such as Natural Sciences or joint honours degrees, which could enable you to keep your options open or explore a new subject before committing to it.