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What Will I Do When I Finish My Degree?

I started my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science at Keele University in September 2016. It was a long process to get here, I originally applied to and had an offer from  King’s College London – my first choice university for the same course, but unfortunately due to a lack of motivation I didn’t bother studying for the Biology A Level I had decided to finish by self-studying during my gap year. I missed my offer, and I was gutted. I had soon looked up the best courses on offer through clearing and promptly contacted Keele who offered me a place right away. It was a relief to say the least. In this whole time, not once did I stop to consider why I was struggling so much to motivate myself to study…

I think the easiest place to start this story is right back when I first began school. I loved reading. I loved writing. I loved art. Maths was easy, but that didn’t mean I loved it. My parents tell me stories of me as a child, they used to leave a plate of sandwiches and a stack of books by the side of my bed to keep me occupied when I woke early in the morning – a genius idea, I think you would agree. Somewhere along the line, people started to point out that I was clever, that I was good at science and maths, that I should pursue this. When I was younger I never really thought about it. I told myself that I just wasn’t good at English, that my art was terrible, I’m so glad that I never stopped reading!

By the time my GCSEs arrived, I was so set on the path to maths and science that everything else was an inconvenience – at that stage the work was still easy enough that I didn’t actually have to put in any effort and thankfully still achieved grades that nobody would ever question – except myself of course. I am filled with regret; I know I could have done so much better if only I had put the work in, but it was easy, and nobody encouraged me. When it came to choosing my A-levels, I just picked the subjects I got the best marks in, and that was that. I didn’t think about what I would enjoy, people had been telling me for so long that I should do something ‘clever’, something in science. People encouraged me to look at medicine, and honestly, I did actually believe at that stage that it was what I wanted to do.

A Levels were not as easy as GCSEs. In my AS year I flopped, I failed my RS exams (and there was no coursework to fall back on) and I got B’s and C’s in the rest. I know they’re not bad grades, but I also know that I could have done so much better. Failing RS concreted my opinion that I was bad at English, that I ‘just couldn’t write essays’. In my A2 year, I took up a new AS subject on top of my three A-Levels. I added biology to the mix. It was terrible, and I don’t know why I kept going with it – I definitely don’t know why I decided to finish the A level in my gap year. Looking back now, it’s easy to say that I made the wrong choices, but at the time I had no idea what I wanted to do so medicine was a great goal to aim for. Medicine is vocational, if you follow that path, you know your final destination. After my performance at AS, it was decide that I should take a gap year and apply with the 2016 entry cohort so that I could bring up my grades with resits and hard work in my second year of A-Levels.

I should have used that additional year to think about what I really wanted, but I guess it was a little late by that point anyway, the A-levels I had picked left little room to change my route. If I could go back now, I would probably still do maths, but I probably wouldn’t have stayed at my school’s sixth form. If I could go back now, I would pick subjects like English, History and French. One of the local sixth form colleges offers a Classical Civilisations A-Level course which a few of my friends have done. One of my options for when I leave university is to go back to college and take a new set of A-levels, but I’m not sure this is realistic. When I finish my degree, without a job where will I find the money to live whilst I study for new A-Levels? Maybe it is something I will pursue when I am much older, if I ever have a way to fund myself without woking for a few years…

Now half way into my degree programme I don’t see any point in dropping out. It’s stressful, and tiring, and sometimes downright boring, but I know I’m learning a lot about myself in the process. If I can do this and come out with a decent qualification at the end of it, I know I’ll be able to do anything! And whilst I still may not be sure of what I’m going to do with my life when this course ends, at least I’ll have a good starting block to jump from.

I have a few days between finishing my January exams and starting back for the second half of the year so I’m ferociously attempting to find work experience and thinking about all my various options. I love my blog, but I don’t know if I could make a living from it, it’s one of the ways I relax and it always gets pushed to one side when I am super busy. Does anyone have any suggestions for places I could approach to get some insight into various industries? I am open to trying just about anything, I love writing, reading, photography and being outdoors. I really love languages and did two French modules in my first year of uni. Any suggestions?

3 Comments

  1. My sister is retired and taking a course that has nothing to do with what she’ll do at the end of it, and everything to do with pleasure and the impractical dream she had when young.
    My granddaughter is stepping into a Uni course that will hopefully lead to a job at the other end. She’s working part time to help support herself.

    Stop saying, ‘if I could go back’ and decide once and for all why you are studying and where you are heading. Take a year to do one of those boring jobs where you will be expected to work hard and earn the minimum wage. You may realise that your co-workers have no choice but you do.

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    • Rhetoric & Mythos says

      I understand that you may have perceived my post as me whining about wanting to change the past. I promise you that is not what I meant. I truly believe that it is so important to know what you would change about your past because it acknowledges the mistakes you have made, and without knowing that then how can you possibly learn from them? The likelihood is that I will, like many graduates, get a boring job, working hard and getting paid minimum wage when I finish my degree. I won’t have a choice. What I was trying to demonstrate is that it is ok to not know what you’re doing, but that it important to try and figure out what will make you happiest because I have no intention of working just so that I can live, I would like to find a career into which I can truly put my heart and soul. Thank you for bringing that up though, I really appreciate hearing other people’s views and opinions. I hope you granddaughter thoroughly enjoys her degree and I wish her every success because working and studying is hard!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • People spend the major part of their adult life in the workplace. So, you’re right to want to find something that makes you happy to get up in the morning. My granddaughter starts her studies in March. I’m hoping she’ll see it as the happiest time of her life.
        Good luck with your studies. 🙂

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