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Which degree is the most worth it and most useful?
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Smack
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(Original post by lemon27)
Which degree is the most worth it and most useful?
These are fundamentally different degrees and fields. Which one interests you the most?
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(Original post by Smack)
These are fundamentally different degrees and fields. Which one interests you the most?
I'm interested in both, I've always been about medicine from the start and have been working towards that. However now that it's time to start writing up my application, I'm starting to have doubts. I will be honest, I have a bit of knowledge on both degrees (more on medicine) but nothing too in depth. The main attraction towards medicine, for me, was the whole idea of "helping people." I know that all jobs in some sense help people but with medicine, you can directly save lives and see the effects on the patient. My main doubts with medicine are that it's a difficult and long course, I feel as if I haven't got what it takes at times to be able to stick with it.

Chemical engineering has been interesting to me recently, but I will admit I don't know a whole deal about it. I have spoken to students currently studying either medicine or engineering and one thing that I picked up on was that the engineering students mentioned that their course can get tedious and repetitive. Apparently, a lot of people drop out from engineering as well due to it's difficulty.

I would also like a quick start to my career in the future and be able to earn a good starting salary straight after university. I also want a job where I can travel frequently (or even just a change of scenery ie not stuck in an office/ lab/ factory at all times). Another thing that worries me is the expense of medical school.
Medicine for me feels secure. A job is pretty much guaranteed.

I've found myself in this dilemma all year; to do medicine or not. My mind was pretty much set on medicine as there was nothing else I could see myself studying. But now having done a little bit of research and speaking to university students, chemical engineering is starting to appeal to me.

My A levels are maths, chemistry and biology. All of my extra / super curriculars this year have been for medicine. So even if I did want to do engineering I feel like I have no chance of even getting in. I'm just confused between medicine and chemical engineering and unsure of how to make my mind up.
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(Original post by lemon27)
I'm interested in both, I've always been about medicine from the start and have been working towards that. However now that it's time to start writing up my application, I'm starting to have doubts. I will be honest, I have a bit of knowledge on both degrees (more on medicine) but nothing too in depth. The main attraction towards medicine, for me, was the whole idea of "helping people." I know that all jobs in some sense help people but with medicine, you can directly save lives and see the effects on the patient. My main doubts with medicine are that it's a difficult and long course, I feel as if I haven't got what it takes at times to be able to stick with it.

Chemical engineering has been interesting to me recently, but I will admit I don't know a whole deal about it. I have spoken to students currently studying either medicine or engineering and one thing that I picked up on was that the engineering students mentioned that their course can get tedious and repetitive. Apparently, a lot of people drop out from engineering as well due to it's difficulty.

I would also like a quick start to my career in the future and be able to earn a good starting salary straight after university. I also want a job where I can travel frequently (or even just a change of scenery ie not stuck in an office/ lab/ factory at all times). Another thing that worries me is the expense of medical school.
Medicine for me feels secure. A job is pretty much guaranteed.

I've found myself in this dilemma all year; to do medicine or not. My mind was pretty much set on medicine as there was nothing else I could see myself studying. But now having done a little bit of research and speaking to university students, chemical engineering is starting to appeal to me.

My A levels are maths, chemistry and biology. All of my extra / super curriculars this year have been for medicine. So even if I did want to do engineering I feel like I have no chance of even getting in. I'm just confused between medicine and chemical engineering and unsure of how to make my mind up.
What is it about chemical engineering specifically that interests you? Do other disciplines of engineering also interest you? I think a lot of people are in your position of not being sure what they want to study.

I wouldn't worry about not having related extra or super curriculars: engineering admissions are largely based on grades (in the right subjects), and the courses have high offer rates. If you've got the grades there is no reason why you won't secure places.
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I have sort of ruled out most engineering courses as I don't take A level physics however chemical engineering is one that stuck as it involved chemistry which I really enjoy. I've looked at a few uni courses and the requirements are A level maths and chemistry and either biology, physics or further maths is preferred at the third. Would not doing physics at A level disadvantage me? I know it's not listed as a required subject by all universities but I assume most people going into engineering would have physics.

I like how it's quite a versatile degree and I'll hopefully have the option of working in a few different settings. I also like maths and chemistry, so chemical engineering appealed to me quite quickly even though I do need to do more research on what exactly a chemical engineering course would be like.
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There are no proper answers to the two question you asked. No one can claim to state objectively which one is more useful etc. Both these careers offer different and important services. What it really comes down to is which career would make you the happiest( in the short and long term). Many people claim to do medicine,dentistry, pharmacy etc because they want to 'help' people. But in reality, as you stated, there are many jobs (from firefighters to parademics) that do that. From my experience, many people do these common healthcare courses because of the job security and their perceptions on the salary of those jobs. There is also this notion of "prestige" and family/cultural factors.

Given you're finding it hard to decide, you can spend more time getting experience and see if that changes your perspective. If you can't/don't want to do that then focus on the positives of both careers to you and which one matters more. If job security means more to you, then medicine is probably the better option. You can also travel etc in medicine. Remember, just because you start doing a university course, it does not mean you have to continue doing it. Medicine is an intense course, so I would say make your threshold for deciding to do medicine considerably higher.
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(Original post by lemon27)
I have sort of ruled out most engineering courses as I don't take A level physics however chemical engineering is one that stuck as it involved chemistry which I really enjoy. I've looked at a few uni courses and the requirements are A level maths and chemistry and either biology, physics or further maths is preferred at the third. Would not doing physics at A level disadvantage me? I know it's not listed as a required subject by all universities but I assume most people going into engineering would have physics.

I like how it's quite a versatile degree and I'll hopefully have the option of working in a few different settings. I also like maths and chemistry, so chemical engineering appealed to me quite quickly even though I do need to do more research on what exactly a chemical engineering course would be like.
I wouldn't let the lack of physics put you off studying another discipline if that'd suit you better, and you can get into other disciplines without it (although to have more choice in terms of universities, you'd be better to take it, even if it means an extra year). But if chemical suits you the most that's fine, and you won't be disadvantaged without physics if it's not on the entry requirements, as engineering degrees typically have high offer rates. I'm guessing your grades are quite high too since you're considering medicine.

I'd look into chemical engineering more to see if it's really what you want. You can also look into the engineering forum too:

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=53
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(Original post by Mr Optimist)
There are no proper answers to the two question you asked. No one can claim to state objectively which one is more useful etc. Both these careers offer different and important services. What it really comes down to is which career would make you the happiest( in the short and long term). Many people claim to do medicine,dentistry, pharmacy etc because they want to 'help' people. But in reality, as you stated, there are many jobs (from firefighters to parademics) that do that. From my experience, many people do these common healthcare courses because of the job security and their perceptions on the salary of those jobs. There is also this notion of "prestige" and family/cultural factors.

Given you're finding it hard to decide, you can spend more time getting experience and see if that changes your perspective. If you can't/don't want to do that then focus on the positives of both careers to you and which one matters more. If job security means more to you, then medicine is probably the better option. You can also travel etc in medicine. Remember, just because you start doing a university course, it does not mean you have to continue doing it. Medicine is an intense course, so I would say make your threshold for deciding to do medicine considerably higher.
Thank you for your response, I think I'll just have to think about what I honestly want from my career.
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(Original post by Smack)
I wouldn't let the lack of physics put you off studying another discipline if that'd suit you better, and you can get into other disciplines without it (although to have more choice in terms of universities, you'd be better to take it, even if it means an extra year). But if chemical suits you the most that's fine, and you won't be disadvantaged without physics if it's not on the entry requirements, as engineering degrees typically have high offer rates. I'm guessing your grades are quite high too since you're considering medicine.

I'd look into chemical engineering more to see if it's really what you want. You can also look into the engineering forum too:

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=53
Thank you! My only concern is if universities would still accept my A level is physics even if it wasn't taken at the same time as my other A levels. If I had to take a year out to complete it for example.
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wifd149
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(Original post by lemon27)
I have sort of ruled out most engineering courses as I don't take A level physics however chemical engineering is one that stuck as it involved chemistry which I really enjoy. I've looked at a few uni courses and the requirements are A level maths and chemistry and either biology, physics or further maths is preferred at the third. Would not doing physics at A level disadvantage me? I know it's not listed as a required subject by all universities but I assume most people going into engineering would have physics. I like how it's quite a versatile degree and I'll hopefully have the option of working in a few different settings. I also like maths and chemistry, so chemical engineering appealed to me quite quickly even though I do need to do more research on what exactly a chemical engineering course would be like.
What made me decide that I didn't want to do medicine was that as a doctor, the work hours can get chaotic and I treasure my sleep a lot The job prospects are good, but I suppose you should think of the long-run consequences.

Would chemistry alone, instead of chemical engineering appeal to you? I am just wondering on that; as someone who is taking physics A-level and consider myself an average student, I have come to realize that physics is easy if you have gotten a talent for it and extremely difficult if you don't. The difference between GCSE (O-levels) and A-levels is huge.
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(Original post by wifd149)
What made me decide that I didn't want to do medicine was that as a doctor, the work hours can get chaotic and I treasure my sleep a lot The job prospects are good, but I suppose you should think of the long-run consequences.

Would chemistry alone, instead of chemical engineering appeal to you? I am just wondering on that; as someone who is taking physics A-level and consider myself an average student, I have come to realize that physics is easy if you have gotten a talent for it and extremely difficult if you don't. The difference between GCSE (O-levels) and A-levels is huge.
Thank you for your response! I also don't think the life of a doctor would suit me (in terms of working hours and the amount of dedication etc) which is why I doubted medicine. I haven't given a great deal of thought to doing a chemistry degree alone, but I liked the idea of chemical engineering because it involves a bit of everything; maths, chemistry, physics and biology (I could be wrong lol). I really regret not doing A level physics! But I feel as if it's too late for me now as I'm going into year 13 in September and have already done my AS exams in year 12.
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(Original post by lemon27)
Thank you for your response! I also don't think the life of a doctor would suit me (in terms of working hours and the amount of dedication etc) which is why I doubted medicine. I haven't given a great deal of thought to doing a chemistry degree alone, but I liked the idea of chemical engineering because it involves a bit of everything; maths, chemistry, physics and biology (I could be wrong lol). I really regret not doing A level physics! But I feel as if it's too late for me now as I'm going into year 13 in September and have already done my AS exams in year 12.
That's true; what's done is done I am in the same position too, taking all sciences intending to do medicine but have now changed my mind to do law. I don't have any "art subject" and so hopefully, I am not at a disadvantage
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(Original post by wifd149)
That's true; what's done is done I am in the same position too, taking all sciences intending to do medicine but have now changed my mind to do law. I don't have any "art subject" and so hopefully, I am not at a disadvantage
Hopefully it works out for both of us! All the best
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(Original post by lemon27)
Hopefully it works out for both of us! All the best
Thanks! You too
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(Original post by lemon27)
Thank you for your response! I also don't think the life of a doctor would suit me (in terms of working hours and the amount of dedication etc) which is why I doubted medicine. I haven't given a great deal of thought to doing a chemistry degree alone, but I liked the idea of chemical engineering because it involves a bit of everything; maths, chemistry, physics and biology (I could be wrong lol). I really regret not doing A level physics! But I feel as if it's too late for me now as I'm going into year 13 in September and have already done my AS exams in year 12.
The name of "chemical engineering" is a bit misleading, in that there isn't much chemistry in it. It's more engineering applied to the chemical industry. I enjoyed studying it as, as you say, it's a mixture of all the sciences and maths, engineering, and a bit of economics etc.

A chemical engineering course will usually involve some general chemistry as a foundation (physical, organic and inorganic), but beyond that, most of the chemistry involved is physical e.g. thermodynamics.

Doing A level physics would have been helpful, but not all chemeng courses require it, so on these, you should be taught the physics you need when you do the course. There are bits of physics in different topics. However, I think it was more problem solving skills and practice thinking about physical problems that I gained by doing A level physics, rather than the actual content, lots of which I haven't used at all in my chemeng course.

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(Original post by Claree)
The name of "chemical engineering" is a bit misleading, in that there isn't much chemistry in it. It's more engineering applied to the chemical industry. I enjoyed studying it as, as you say, it's a mixture of all the sciences and maths, engineering, and a bit of economics etc.

A chemical engineering course will usually involve some general chemistry as a foundation (physical, organic and inorganic), but beyond that, most of the chemistry involved is physical e.g. thermodynamics.

Doing A level physics would have been helpful, but not all chemeng courses require it, so on these, you should be taught the physics you need when you do the course. There are bits of physics in different topics. However, I think it was more problem solving skills and practice thinking about physical problems that I gained by doing A level physics, rather than the actual content, lots of which I haven't used at all in my chemeng course.

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Thank you for this response! I've looked into chemical engineering a bit more and feel as if it really suits me. Can you tell me a bit more about the types of careers it would lead to? Also would I be disadvantanged without A level physics? I also haven't got any work experience or extra curriculars relevant to chemeng as i've been focusing on medicine orginally. What could I do to make my application and personal statement stand out?

Sorry for bombarding you with questions! Any sort of feedback would be appreciated as i'm a bit lost haha
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(Original post by Claree)
The name of "chemical engineering" is a bit misleading, in that there isn't much chemistry in it. It's more engineering applied to the chemical industry. I enjoyed studying it as, as you say, it's a mixture of all the sciences and maths, engineering, and a bit of economics etc.

A chemical engineering course will usually involve some general chemistry as a foundation (physical, organic and inorganic), but beyond that, most of the chemistry involved is physical e.g. thermodynamics.

Doing A level physics would have been helpful, but not all chemeng courses require it, so on these, you should be taught the physics you need when you do the course. There are bits of physics in different topics. However, I think it was more problem solving skills and practice thinking about physical problems that I gained by doing A level physics, rather than the actual content, lots of which I haven't used at all in my chemeng course.

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How tough did you find the course? Are you/did you find it hard to secure a job after your degree?
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(Original post by lemon27)
Thank you for this response! I've looked into chemical engineering a bit more and feel as if it really suits me. Can you tell me a bit more about the types of careers it would lead to? Also would I be disadvantanged without A level physics? I also haven't got any work experience or extra curriculars relevant to chemeng as i've been focusing on medicine orginally. What could I do to make my application and personal statement stand out?

Sorry for bombarding you with questions! Any sort of feedback would be appreciated as i'm a bit lost haha
No problem, happy to help!

A chemeng degree is a good degree to have whether or not you want to go into the chemical industry, due to the analytical and problem solving skills gained, as well as teamwork and presentation skills etc. About half of my year are going into chemeng related jobs. The rest have got jobs in banking, finance, consulting etc. Some are working in chemical companies but not as an engineer e.g. in supply chain & logistics, or as a business analyst.

The chemical industry is broad - if you wanted a chemeng job, you could work in e.g. oil & gas (though there aren't many grad jobs in this atm!), pharmaceuticals, food, water treatment, consumer goods etc.

Not having work experience isn't a problem. I don't think it's expected for a chemeng application, though it's nice if you do have some, and it may help you decide what you want to do. You can focus on the technological and manufacturing side of medical work experience you have done if you want to talk about it e.g. being interested how tablets are made. Or e.g. if you found systems for improving patient safety interesting, you could comment on safety in the chemical industry. Chemeng is just turning raw materials into final products, and you'll see final products that you can talk about everywhere! Also, as chemeng is a mixture of science and maths, talk about your extracurriculars that are relevant to those. They know you won't have studied chemeng at school, so talking about extracurriculars related to your school subjects is relevant e.g. maths challenges. You could read a book or articles relevant to chemeng.

If you decided on chemeng after choosing your A levels, you can explain that. Just make sure physics isn't required at the places where you apply - I've not looked, but most places probably don't require it. A level maths is probably the most useful A level for Chemeng. I've used less than half of A level physics in my chemeng course (I don't think I've used, except superficially, electromagnetism, electricity, astrophysics or particle physics. I think I've used dynamics/mechanics, which I did in maths mechanics modules anyway, materials, thermal physics and experimental setup/write-up skills, which I did in my other science subjects too, and it was all taught again at uni. You could read up on the relevant topics in the summer before starting uni if you want to, though some others won't have done A level physics either.

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(Original post by rahsain)
How tough did you find the course? Are you/did you find it hard to secure a job after your degree?
I found the course ok, but I am very good at maths, which helped. I did Natural Sciences in 1st year before doing ChemEng from 2nd year. I found NatSci a lot to learn. ChemEng was better as it was possible to learn all the material properly! I found ChemEng hard when I first started, as it was all new, but once I got the basics, it was much better in later years, as I was building on earlier stuff. ChemEng at my uni was v busy with writing coursework (4 lab reports and 3 miniproject reports, called exercises, a term in 2nd year, then just exercises in 3rd year), which was difficult to time-manage in 2nd year. But now I can write good reports quickly, so am glad I learnt to do so then! The design project at the end of 3rd year, where we designed a chemical plant in 5 weeks in groups, was tough, mostly due to the intense time pressure of having so much to do and having to search for relevant information.

I am staying on to do a PhD (a handful of others are also going to do further study) but my friends seem to have found jobs ok, and I'm sure I could have got a good job had I wanted one. A few haven't yet but that's mostly because they left applying until now, to focus on the degree during the year.

Most people did internships between 3rd and 4th year, and some did internships the other summers, too. It's common to have to apply to several places before getting an internship offer (I applied to around 5), but I think those who wanted an internship were usually successful getting one somewhere.

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