UMASS Blog

What and Where to Study?

This time of year is when a lot of students are struggling to decide what subject to study at University and whereabouts to study it. In Parizad’s most recent blog post she shares how she decided what to study at University and where to study.

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“What are you studying at university?”

“Where will you be going to university?”

These are perhaps two of the most daunting questions a young person is ever asked, right ahead of “What would you like to order?” and “Should we go for the extended edition ‘Lord of the Rings’ marathon?”  We don’t realise that choosing where we want to spend the next few years of our life is as important as deciding what we’re going to spend those years studying. Feeling content and comfortable in our surroundings is essential for our wellbeing as individuals in any stage of our lives. So how did I answer these two questions when my time came?

As I’ve probably discussed in a previous post, my A-Level subjects were leaning towards a career in healthcare. Seeing as it was a popular career path in my family, I thought it was the obvious choice for me. To test waters, I signed up for healthcare summer school, which was aimed at A-Level students to come and take part in a week long workshop in two London universities where they would be introduced to different course options while discovering student life. Though it was an enjoyable experience to immerse in student life, at the end I was surprised to discover that a career in healthcare was just not for me. Faced with a dilemma, I turned to the career counsellor at my sixth form. After our meeting I decided I wanted to try a career in engineering. It appealed to my scientific curiosities as well as my creative side. Thankfully, I learned that it is never too late to change your mind. Turned out there were foundation years in engineering available at universities for students like me who hadn’t picked physics and maths (as there are for several other courses as well). The next step was looking into what universities offered these and which ones came highly recommended. Incidentally, the mention of Manchester came from my career counsellor, as her daughter had gone through the exact same thing. So I rounded up a few other options and narrowed it down to a short list.

Next, it was time to book open days. This can be pivotal in making your final decision. Getting a feel of the environment and imagining yourself there definitely helps. This also gives you a chance to ask any questions that you have to current students of the university and get first-hand answers. I made the choice to put down Manchester as my firm choice after considering a few factors. The reputation of the institution and its prestigious history of hosting some of the greatest minds in the field of science and engineering was a large chunk of it. But I also found my interview to be a pleasant experience and found myself looking forward to being taught by the staff and students I met. Manchester as a city also attracted me for its rich and diverse culture. I decided that my insurance would be a London university as it’s the city I’m from and familiar with, and this way I knew I’d be in a place I already love as well as being close to my family.

However, this decision did not come without its doubts. A few weeks prior to my first year starting, I began to panic. I had never lived away from home, away from my family, and now suddenly I was plunging into a life where I would be fending for myself. I want you to know that many feel this way and it is completely normal. I got over this fear by convincing myself that this is exactly what I needed. This will nurture my independent growth and prepare me for the professional life. We all have to leave the nest one day. Scaring ourselves off won’t delay the process, but only make it harder. If you find yourself facing such anxieties, talk to someone. Family, friends, counsellors or even university students on forums can be beneficial.

My advice would be to research all your options at an early stage, giving yourself some room. Book summer schools, book several open days, look at any differences in course descriptions in different places, start considering what things matter the most to you when deciding where to live. Make sure both your firm and insurance choice encompass these things. The smallest of choices can have the biggest impact in your lives. We are constantly discovering ourselves through the places we go and the people we meet. Had I chosen differently my whole life could have looked altered today. But I’m glad I made the right choice.

 

If you want to find out more about the University then come along to our Open Day on June 20th and 21st. Register here.