University Degree – The Choices We Make

Most of us have experienced that terrifying moment when we are faced with determining our immediate future, though it starts a long while before we perhaps realise.

university degree

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

The carelessness afforded to us by youth snatched away from us in that moment as we plunge into adulthood without truly having the chance to reflect on what lay before us.

Maybe you think these words a shade overzealous considering that what I have in mind is that process of choosing what our higher education is to entail.

Making Hard and Fast Decisions

In my own experience I feel it came far too soon, the onus placed on choosing a University course immediately and playing to my strongest subjects was not the best advice my teachers could have offered. On reflection it seemed that despite the willingness of my educational gurus to help us on our paths to adulthood and bliss, that instead they panicked me into making hard and fast decisions that now I regret in their entirety educationally speaking.

The blatant and most painful example of this is of course that by now age old exchange…

“So what did you study at University?”


“Oh so you plan on going into teaching then?”

To which my reply is now rather more tempered with calm than my previous record of outbursts and furious tirades would have been. If any of you have had the displeasure of my company you will realise that teaching, though a truly admirable and worthwhile profession, is not exactly up my street to say the least. It is not even a street I’d venture to go down if all other routes offered by my life’s SatNav were unavailable due to road works.

Look Back In Regret

Anyway, enough of the road analogies. My point remains that we are cornered into making such far reaching choices much too early in our educational development or in our development as individuals with any kind of life plan mapped out. I realise, for many these choices play out beautifully and life continues on, joy and success abound thanks. However, us exceptions then must either look back in regret at the choice once we have let it run its course, or back out prematurely from University and frantically reassess what direction to take whilst having to pay in part for a course we were never really passionate about.

Either of these unfortunate circumstances ultimately boils down to making a single choice. A choice that we, at the time, assumed was the right one to make without considering what jobs that degree would ultimately lead too, is the course one that you could enjoy for 3 – 5 years, and is this the right time to enrol on this course. Often this choice is also flung at us during our final months of schooling where we are still yet to find out what results we have achieved in our A levels (or equivalent exams).

Realisation of wrong choice

It is the failure of the education system to prepare us to achieve our dream job or even to give us chance enough to realise that we have a dream at all! This huge decision is thrust at us by our teachers and education system without a second thought as to if we are individually ready to make the decision. I for one should have taken the opportunity to take a year out, earn some money and ponder long and hard on what University course if any would have best served the future me. As it stands, I sit here typing away a slightly embittered graduate who now realises he should have studied Journalism rather than English. 3 years too late boo hoo.

It is not simply a case of what your best subject was at school either, so don’t immediately assume that this is the way forwards on your quest for educational glory.  Universities have a far greater array of degrees on offer than you may originally think.  This is why it is crucial to assess what careers you would like to pursue and factor this into the decision you’re making; again I feel this is a simple truth that is often overlooked to a large extent by those who claim that they have our best interests at heart when advising us on our education. A degree may not necessarily translate directly into a job either; this much should be obvious to most. Arts degrees in particular are something of a mountain to climb when it comes to transforming that hard earned degree into your dream job, much to my dismay. And please, do not think I am discouraging Arts degrees for this, I would choose an Arts degree every time, it is my passion and that is where I see my future, though it should be said that I believe much more care should be taken when selecting an Arts based course as I said previously, jobs will be hard come by and highly sought after by a great many others particularly in the current climate of the graduate job sector.

I therefore, urge you all, graduate or not, to encourage family and friends to consider what they want from their education and how best to go about it, rather than be swept away by the rapid and frantic University application process that is such a fixture in the education system, not just here in the UK but the world over. Take your time, learn about what you want from University and then make your choice, take it with both hands and good luck.

Mike Perry

1 Comment

  • I couldn’t agree more… I too am a disappointed student, who chose the wrong degree and would have made a better choice if applied years later with a broader and wiser eye of reality.
    Also, to further this topic, this is also the reason why sometimes there are horrible professionals: I am from Italy, and I know at least 3 childhood people from high school who have finished their medicine degree – in my opinion they will be horrible doctors, because they lacked (and still lack) the caregiver attitude which I believe it’s necessary in that profession.