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Choosing The Right Degree Course - Five Questions To Ask Yourself
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Choosing the Right Degree Course - Five Questions to Ask Yourself

With the current financial situation in the UK, many young people are questioning whether they can afford to go to university or whether it’s even worth it. In the past few years there have been stories in the British press about so called ‘Mickey Mouse’ or 'soft degrees' in non-traditional subjects like Media Studies that have attracted a lot of criticism. Choosing the right degree course has never been more challenging. It may be nice to go to uni, study and have fun for three or four years or longer, but most students want payback for the time and money invested in their degree by getting a good job when they graduate.

Of course there are no guarantees – there never were, but if you’ve decided that university is for you then you should take the time to think it through as thoroughly as possible

Am I choosing a degree of my choice?

Of course many students have to make compromises on their choice of degree, but be aware of the dangers of following a course that is the wish of someone else. In some cultures students have very little choice and are expected by their family to study topics like medicine or business. However, if you are free to choose make sure that you are choosing something that you can commit to and enjoy rather than something you think you should do.

What career path/s are there?

It’s a mistake to start studying for a degree course and not research the different career paths that there are. It’s unlikely that there is just a single one – so do your research so that you are as well informed as you can be.

What does your chosen sector expect from graduates?

When you’re clear about the career paths you could follow, you need to find out exactly what it is companies want from their graduates. You then have 3, 4 or more years to make sure that you learn any new skills or gain experience that a new employee would expect you to have when you apply for a job in the future.

Are there opportunities for work experience?

So often graduates complain they can’t get into their chosen field because they don’t have the experience. Research what opportunities there are to gain relevant work experience. Even if work experience or work placements are part of your course and the university help you arrange it, don’t leave it entirely up to them. You should be well informed about what's available yourself.

What job prospects are there?

Now you may have decided the subject you want to study. You may have established what your chosen sector or industry wants from their graduates. But are there any jobs when you finish? I know many years ago when a friend of mine did a computer graphics degree there were so many graduates in computer graphics that companies were able to choose the very best, which meant many were unable to work in their chosen field. Of course a situation can change over the time you're studying for your degree but make sure that you understand your sector or industry and what realistic prospects there are.


There are no guarantees that gaining a degree will lead you along a career path with a job that you love and a salary that allows you to do all the things you want to do. Unfortunately life just isn’t like that. But what you can do is think about your choice of degree and the opportunities that there are. And even if you’re having to follow a degree that wouldn’t be your first choice, it’s still important that you do thorough research to ensure that you are as well prepared as you can be for your future when you graduate.

If you’re an international student thinking of coming and studying in the UK further advice is available.

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