The big decision – which course and what univeristy
When you reach the point in sixth form or college where you’re asked to choose a degree and consider where you want to study, it can be very anxiety-inducing. It certainly was for me. I had no clue what I wanted out of life: I had many passions and interests but no concrete idea of what I should commit to. I’m sure many of you are feeling the same way right now. So let me take you through the steps that I took to get to where I am right now.
Coming from a family that favoured the medical professions, I chose Biology and Chemistry as two of my subjects in sixth form. I also did English Literature because I love writing and reading in my spare time, and French because of my affinity for languages. My A-level choices gave me many degree options. Thinking of Medicine, I signed up for a medical summer school at a London university along with some friends. This was incredibly useful for two reasons; I got a taste of university life and I discovered that the world of medicine was not for me. More confused than ever, I turned to my careers adviser at school for help, which proved to be very useful. I told her that I wanted to do something based in science but that it should be something with a creative side to it too.
That’s when she suggested engineering. I know what you’re thinking ‘but you didn’t even have Physics and Maths as subjects’. This is when the career adviser told me about the Foundation Engineering courses universities have for this very reason. I started looking into it and realised this could be the right fit for me. I had always been interested in the Aerospace field, particularly what materials are employed to give the best results. I applied to several universities to do their foundation courses. I put Manchester as my first choice as it had been personally recommended by my careers adviser (her daughter had taken the same route).
It was important for me to go to a university which was similar to my hometown (London). Being a big city girl, I wanted to live in a place with a rich history and culture and with all the conveniences of London. My top choice was always Manchester, because of its celebrated relationship with science and the fact that it was a perfect compromise between a city and a campus university. It was essential for me to have a good think about what I wanted from my degree, the university and the city, which then allowed me to make the big decision.
When I finally received a letter for an interview at The University of Manchester, I went to visit the city, which reaffirmed my faith in my choice. I also went to other universities’ open days in order to get a taste of their surroundings and ensure I was making the right decision.
I would like to say one thing I’ve learned from my experience. It’s never too late, so don’t panic. If you change your mind about your future halfway through sixth form or college, there are always options out there for you. Now that I’m in my final year of Materials Engineering I’ve discovered even more about myself and what I want out of life, and have come to know that there are still more options beyond this point if I chose to take a different path. Once again, the careers service has helped me to broaden my horizons. I know this is always a time of uncertainty for students your age, but just know that everything will fall into its place, one step at a time.