“The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.” - Ben Stein
1 in 10 students drops out of university in their first year. Probably because they don’t know what they want to do.
However, it’s not always easy to know what you want to do and through school and what you need to do to achieve it. Fortunately for you, some organisations can help you make the right choices for your studies.
Whether you're thinking of studying abroad, not sure what you're interested in studying, or just need pointing in the right direction, here’s everything you need to know.
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How to Assess Your Options
Firstly, do you know what an appraisal is for?
This is useful to help you make the right decisions about what you choose to study. Your teachers will probably help you based on your exam results. That said, you should also do an appraisal based on your exam results, your skills, your drive, and your personality.
- Even if you can do better in your exams, your results will help you work out which subjects you excel in.
- The subjects that you like or do well in. Are you good with technology? Do you work well in a group? Do you have an analytical mind?
- Find out what you like to do when you’re not at school: going for walks, playing online, going to the cinema, drawing, etc.
- Your personality will also dictate the best jobs for you and the subjects you should study. Extroverted, timid, sociable, autonomous, ambitious, curious, etc.
An appraisal based on these criteria will give you a better idea of who you are and what you’re capable of.
Are you prone to procrastination and end up cramming? Suffer from test anxiety? Or do you have good study habits?
The results of your appraisal might be useful when it comes to talking to a guidance counsellor. As the job title indicates, they’re there to help you work out what to do and provide you with guidance for your studies and career.
It doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s a good idea to follow their advice and regularly update them with how things are going. Similarly, it's important that students in school also know what they want to do when it comes to their GCSEs and A Levels.
If you feel that you’ve made the wrong choices, it’s never too late to do an academic appraisal. A skills appraisal will help you work out how to study, how to develop study skills, and ways to study that work with your learning style. It'll also help you work out whether student life is for you and how to get the most out of your academic performance.
There are plenty of useful resources to help students choose what to study to get the career they dream of. With the right study habits, time management, and an understanding of your academic strengths and weaknesses, you'll easily find the best university and college courses.
There are also websites where you can search for careers and academic requirements.
If you’ve never seen them, here’s a few examples of what’s on offer:
- Secondary school: articles, quizzes, and information on what you can study in terms of GCSEs. There’s also information on different qualifications and what they entail.
- College and sixth form: A Levels, BTECs, etc. What you need to study to get onto different university courses. Again, there’s more information available online.
- University: You’ll probably want to look at which degrees are necessary for certain careers. That said, there are qualifications other than undergraduate degrees.
If you have a vague idea on what you want to do, you can have a look for advice on what you’ll need to study. You can also look for what you can do depending on what you study. There are several other resources you can use to find out more about your career prospects and don't forget to check the QS World University Rankings.
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This is the main site for students studying at sixth form or college looking to go to university. You need to use this service to apply to almost every degree program in the UK.
If you need more information on your chosen university, what the tuition fee is for your course, or more information on your particular study area, head to the UCAS website. You can find more information on further education, undergraduate degrees, postgraduate degrees, alternative education, and careers!
National Careers Service
This is a useful service to consult while studying as it'll help you work out the entry requirements for certain careers and academic programs. If you aren't at all sure what you want to study at university, consult the National Careers Service and have a look at jobs that you're interested in. You'll be able to see what field of study is necessary and whether or not you need to do both an undergraduate and graduate degree, for example.
Check for personal development courses here.
With the National Careers Service, you can explore careers, do a skills assessment, find a course at one of the top universities in the country, or get help getting a job.
Think of it as a digital academic advisor! If you're not sure what to do to after you graduate, this is the place to go. After all, academic success doesn't necessarily guarantee employability. While a lot of degree courses are designed with your future career in mind, after graduation, you can't expect to just find a job off-campus.
Whether you're studying humanities, liberal arts, or the sciences, it can be tricky thinking about your future when you're trying to study effectively, do your coursework, and review your notes from the last lecture!
Don't worry! Prospects.ac.uk is a great site to check out if you need help. It's got a focus on undergraduates as it's designed to help students work out what to do with their degree. Undergraduate students may need to look at different areas of study or even a postgraduate degree and this is a great site for finding out more about jobs and work experience, postgraduate study, career advice, and applying for university.
Additionally, you might prefer to do something more vocational than an undergraduate degree or just prefer not to pay tuition fees and study abroad a country that doesn't have them. Make sure you check the living costs where you're going! That said, there are plenty of study abroad scholarships around for certain subjects.
In this case, you'll need to worry about getting a student visa or a study permit but you there are also plenty of sites, including the universities' websites, where you can find out what you need to do!
Find out more about Prospects.ac.uk.
Do you have any questions about career advice?
Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments. If not, you know what to do!
You might also want to consider getting some help from a private tutor. They can help you with study strategies, study methods, time management tips, study tips, notetaking, etc. It's all well and good knowing what you want to study, but you need to get good results at university and you can do this by doing practice exams, making flashcards, going over your lecture notes, etc., all things that a tutor can help with!
On Superprof, you can find life coaches, career tutors, and academic support tutors. Generally, there are three types of tutorial available: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Each type of tutorial comes with its pros and cons and you'll need to think about your budget and your goals when choosing which one to go for.
Face-to-face tutorials are between you and your tutor. As the only student in the class, you'll benefit from tailored sessions and your tutor's undivided attention. While these are often the most costly type of private tutorial, they're also the most cost-effective thanks to how much time your tutor can spend focusing on you.
Online tutorials are similar to face-to-face tutorials in terms of the tutor-student ratio but your tutor won't be in the room with you. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can now get private tutoring via webcam using video conferencing software such as Skype. While not ideal for hands-on subjects, online tutorials are great for academic subjects and they're often cheaper than the face-to-face tutorials since the tutor doesn't need to factor travel costs into their rates.
Finally, group tutorials, as you may have guessed, are when you're taught alongside other students in a group. With several students footing the bill, these tutorials often work out cheaper per student per hour. While cheaper, it means you won't get as much attention from your tutor as they'll need to focus on several students at once. Unfortunately, this all means that they can't tailor their sessions to you as they'll need to take the other students' needs, strengths and weaknesses, and goals into account when planning their lessons.
Think carefully about your goals, budget, and learning style before deciding what type of tutorials are right for you!