Here’s a suggestion for you, dear A-level student: you won’t know if you will enjoy your degree unless you go above and beyond your A-level curriculum.
What do I mean by this?
The future is predicted by looking into the past. We look at what has happened before, to try to work out what will happen next. We spot patterns and reflect on what we learned, and we use that to forecast future trends or experiences.
This applies to making choices for university. One of the best predictors of whether you will enjoy your degree is to think about what you have enjoyed studying previously.
Here are three ways this could work for you:
Do I like exams or do I prefer coursework?
Degrees at different institutions may be assessed in various ways. Most will include a mixture of examinations or coursework assignments, but the way these are distributed – and how many assessments you have of each type – will differ. Did you enjoy the pressure that comes with having to revise for an exam or did you prefer writing extended assignments over a longer period of time? Your answer to that question may give you a good predictor of which institution you will enjoy studying at the most in the future.
Did I like reading above and beyond my A-level curriculum?
How will you know if you will enjoy the content of your degree unless you try some out? The Seren conference will give you the chance to sample some taster academic sessions in disciplines related to your academic interests. You should approach them with an open mind, and ask the facilitators for reading recommendations at the end. Take the time – a weekend here or there – to read books you will encounter in the first year of a degree you’re interested in. If you enjoyed it, it’s more likely you will enjoy this degree in the future!
Did I like the open day?
Although much information about university is online, there is very little substitute for actually visiting the place you might study in beforehand. The good news, is that all universities in England, Scotland and Wales can be reached relatively easily – and if you need to stay over the night before, you can always call them up and ask if they provide accommodation for free.
There may be good reasons for staying at home to study for your degree, but unless you go to visit a range of universities in other towns and cities, you cannot really make an informed decision about this. To be informed, you have to have personally experienced what it’s like to be in the place where you might spend three or more years of your life studying for a degree, so make it your business to go above and beyond your comfort zone and go to visit these places.
To make this easier for you, many universities will be represented at the conference on December 6th and 7th, so speak to them then to find out when the open days are being held in 2018.
Best of luck with your studies and applications and remember: by going above and beyond in your preparation for university, you will be able to make more informed decisions and be confident that you’re making choices that will make you happy!
Have you registered for the Above and Beyond event yet? Don’t miss out! You can do so here.