Should I choose a degree based on what I like or what career I want? Watch

Stressedout007
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I am only in Year 10, so I do realise it is a tad early to be asking questione about university, but I was just wondering whether you should already have a career or job in mind when choosing your degree, or just choose what subject you enjoy, and find a job later?

Thanks!
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Mr Aitch
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You are likely to do your best work on a course which you enjoy. Relatively few careers are rigidly Degree-specific (with vocational exceptions: Medecine, Dentistry, Vets - etc. Maybe some Engineering...).

Suggest speaking to a Careers Advisor, and look at what Degrees will enthuse you, whilst leaving as many Careers as possible open to you.

A
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xDron3
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You should have a general idea what you want to be when you start college and pick your A-Levels accordingly and then start deciding what you want to do when you apply to uni. To be honest most people end up swaying down a different career path.

Pick something you can see yourself doing, a job that doesn't feel like a job is worth more than a massive wage.
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username4316350
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imo uni is too expensive these days to go study a subject simply because you enjoy it. i like history but am not gonna go study history degree cos of it, especially when you can self study it i.e. read some books, watch yt videos, podcasts on things of interest where there will be no exams or coursework. i think that when u got to uni u still have to like what u study but cos of the money imo there should be a clear route of why youre going and how it relates to your career. at end of day if ur gonna be paying money lets be 100 you dont even have and will be paying it back for 30 years you better pick a proper degree i.e. medicine, vet, dentistry. but even with STEM and law, surely you could just do an apprenticeship instead perhaps a higher level one. but what about alternatives; would u rather go get a maths degree or train to become an accountant
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xoxAngel_Kxox
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It depends whether you know what you want to do or not. For example, if you know you want to be a nurse, but you like art, there's little point in doing an art degree, as you won't be able to get into the career that you want. It might help if you let us know exactly which career you're hoping for, and the degree you think you might "like" to study, then we can give you better advice .
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Anonymous1502
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My a level choices were based on what career I want and it has been a struggle as despite achieving A*'s at GCSE level I never had a flair for STEM subjects if I am honest.Humanities always came more naturally for me but I didn't want a job to do with humanities and everyone said that there were no jobs after a humanities degree unless you attend an extremely high ranking university.Which probably isn't true.If you want an easier 2 years at a level pick subjects that you feel like you can do well with not as much work.Otherwise you find yourself doing all the work on your own and finding it incredibly hard.
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ecolier
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(Original post by Anonymous1502)
...Humanities always came more naturally for me but I didn't want a job to do with humanities and everyone said that there were no jobs after a humanities degree unless you attend an extremely high ranking university....
Don't base your studies on whether you think there will be a job out of it after you graduate (in my opinion).

You really shouldn't have forced yourself to do STEM when you didn't like the subjects.

Luckily for me I loved science and ended up studying it. I would have regretted it big time if I was forced down another path that I didn't have a flair for. Especially if it was due to perceived career limitations. It's even worse if you didn't manage to do well down this path that you / others have forced you to embark on.

Study what you want first, then persue your career!
Last edited by ecolier; 1 year ago
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Ecdysiastt
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(Original post by ltsmith)
there is very little risk associated with doing what you love.

britain isn't like the us where a student loan will turn you into a debt slave
People rant about student debt but it's really the most insignificant thing to think about.

Don't even have to pay the bloody thing back and the amount you do pay is tiny compared to your wage, so what's all the fuss?
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Nautilus
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It depends on the subject. I know quite a few music and art post grads who are doing minimum wage jobs in reatil and catering because their degrees aren't opening doors for them. If your degree choice offers transferable skills - most humanities degrees do then do it. But think very carefully about degrees in music and fine art. It is a very competitive world out there.
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auburnstar
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I think it's wise to consider the following:

1. What am I good at?
2. What do I enjoy doing?
3. What can I (realistically) see myself doing for 3+ years of study?
4. What sort of career would I be interested in?
5. Is this a career that requires a specific degree?

Bear in mind that most people change careers several times throughout their lives; there is no pressure to know what you will do for the rest of your life at age 18 or younger.

Also, bear in mind that even those careers which seem relatively "shut" without the required degree (eg psychology, law) often have conversion courses so even if you change your mind later on you'll still have that option. Some careers like law also have vocational track entry eg legal apprenticeship. I even know someone who finished a degree in media and worked in advertising and later decided to study medicine and is now a junior doctor so almost anything is possible really imo
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Retired_Messiah
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(Original post by SJW-)
imo uni is too expensive these days to go study a subject simply because you enjoy it.
With all due respect, no. The actual tuition fees at uni are completely irrelevant, as you'll usually never pay them back. As you'll never pay them pack, you'll pretty always pay the same out to the student loan company regardless of how much of the loan is actually left. From moneysavingexpert: 'Student loan statements can lie, as unlike other debt, the interest added ISN’T the interest paid. That depends on future earnings. Some won't repay any interest and most won't earn enough to repay close to all of it.'

Tuition fees could be literally one billion pounds rather than 9k but if you earn a wage that will never pay off the loan with 9k fees, then 9k fees would cause you to pay the same amount as one billion would. Changing the amount you owe in most cases won't change the amount you pay. The cost is only something to pay attention to if you're a high earner who's going to eventually clear the amount, which is not the majority of students (I doubt most STEM students even earn enough).

Getting a degree for the sake of having a degree is pretty pointless, but if you have something you love and want to study more of then you may as well go, as the cost in practical terms isn't that much. OP, having a job in mind is a reasonable plan but if you can't come up with a job you wanna do don't worry so much.

TL;DR 3 point plan:

If you come up with a job you'd really like to do, then it's probably a good idea to do the associated degree.
If you have no career ideas (or no ideas you feel particularly strongly about), BUT know of a subject that you really love and want to study, consider a degree in the loved subject.
If no particular job and no particular degree subject make you feel at all passionate, then definitely don't do a degree. In this case you'd be letting the student loan company take a cut of your income for no real gain.

Applying for something you don't actually like will also make it harder in the application process, as it's difficult to write a personal statement about something you don't care too much about.
(Original post by Ecdysiastt)
People rant about student debt but it's really the most insignificant thing to think about.

Don't even have to pay the bloody thing back and the amount you do pay is tiny compared to your wage, so what's all the fuss?
The fuss is pretty much entirely because they use scary terminology like "debt" and "loan", which conjured images of struggling families crippled by credit cards or mortgages. In reality student loan repayments function like a graduate tax, and if they just named it graduate tax in the first place then I'd wager that there would be no outcry at all.
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auburnstar
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(Original post by Retired_Messiah)
The fuss is pretty much entirely because they use scary terminology like "debt" and "loan", which conjured images of struggling families crippled by credit cards or mortgages. In reality student loan repayments function like a graduate tax, and if they just named it graduate tax in the first place then I'd wager that there would be no outcry at all.
I think part of the issue is that "debt" is associated in some peoples minds with views of a financial ball-and-chain like the US higher education system and/or healthcare-related debt where these sorts of debts negatively affect your purchasing power and credit score and don't generally expire until they are paid in full. The other common perspective is to make it synonymous with predatory loan sharks who charge extremely high levels of interest, in a vicious debt cycle where the person is financially trapped (and again tanks their credit score).

If the graduate tax can be considered a debt at all, it's certainly an unusual one - you need to be earning a certain amount to even begin paying (25K per year, which is pretty close to the UK 27K average), it's proportional to your earnings, it's written off after 30 years and most people don't pay it back in full. Contrasted with eg credit card debt it's a very different picture.
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Retired_Messiah
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(Original post by auburnstar)
I think part of the issue is that "debt" is associated in some peoples minds with views of a financial ball-and-chain like the US higher education system and/or healthcare-related debt where these sorts of debts negatively affect your purchasing power and credit score and don't generally expire until they are paid in full. The other common perspective is to make it synonymous with predatory loan sharks who charge extremely high levels of interest, in a vicious debt cycle where the person is financially trapped (and again tanks their credit score).

If the graduate tax can be considered a debt at all, it's certainly an unusual one - you need to be earning a certain amount to even begin paying (25K per year, which is pretty close to the UK 27K average), it's proportional to your earnings, it's written off after 30 years and most people don't pay it back in full. Contrasted with eg credit card debt it's a very different picture.
Yeah, I agree with all that. But then if they changed the official terminology around to better reflect reality, the main political parties wouldn't be able to use the university tuition fee system as a political football, and then where would we be?
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winterscoming
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If you choose a degree, make sure that it's something you enjoy! (Maybe it doesn't have to be the thing you 'love', but I'd urge you not to choose something that you think you'd actively dislike)

In case you're mulling the idea of doing something you dislike out of fear of being unable to find a job, I'd point out that simply choosing a degree with in-demand skills is absolutely no guarantee of even being able to get into that type of work. Some students do choose to study a subject because someone (often a family member, or maybe their friends) put pressure on them to do it, or because they put pressure on themselves to get into a particular career. While it works for some, it can backfire, and there are risks too:

1) If you don't enjoy studying the subject at university, then there's a good chance you won't enjoy the related jobs you get after graduating either
2) Employers can usually tell when they're interviewing someone who has no real interest or enthusiasm for the work and they see it as a big red flag. Graduates who clearly lack enthusiasm are often rejected in favour of someone who is genuinely keen on the job.
3) If you're studying a subject you don't enjoy, you'll find it harder to focus, and it takes a more effort to learn about something that you're not interested in
4) If you find it harder to focus and learn, you're more likely to struggle, and get a lower degree classification - 3 years is a very long time to try to learn something which doesn't motivate you, and you don't really want to risk getting a 3rd after all that hard work.
5) If you're on the degree and you decide to drop out in the 2nd or 3rd years, then that's probably your one and only chance to go to university wasted.
6) Being on a course you dislike can lead to a very miserable life at university.

If you really are truly torn on which course to choose, perhaps it's a sign that you're not ready to choose yet - maybe a year out after you finish A-Levels would help you (or maybe longer?) A lot of people start university in their 20s. It's not uncommon to find people who started university in their 30s and beyond. There's no need to rush to make a decision and nothing wrong with putting off the decision if you have any doubts or reservations.


If you choose a degree you love, then while it may not lead to a job so easily, that isn't the end of the world. Remember that a degree is really only one of many ways to open up doors and find opportunities. -Your future career prospects will not be pre-determined by the 3 years you spend at university. Many people find themselves spending time learning new skills after they graduate, it could be a postgrad course or some other training, or maybe learning skills independently in your own time, or some kind of 'higher' apprenticeship programme, etc.

Also, remember that employers look at personal qualities too - you can still be the "type" of person that employers are really keen on hiring- things like enthusiasm, strong work ethic, willingness to learn and be out of their comfort zone, strong team-working, communcation and 'leadership' skills, and being the type of person who knows when and how to take the initiative at work.
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username4316350
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(Original post by Retired_Messiah)
With all due respect, no. The actual tuition fees at uni are completely irrelevant, as you'll usually never pay them back. As you'll never pay them pack, you'll pretty always pay the same out to the student loan company regardless of how much of the loan is actually left. From moneysavingexpert: 'Student loan statements can lie, as unlike other debt, the interest added ISN’T the interest paid. That depends on future earnings. Some won't repay any interest and most won't earn enough to repay close to all of it.'

Tuition fees could be literally one billion pounds rather than 9k but if you earn a wage that will never pay off the loan with 9k fees, then 9k fees would cause you to pay the same amount as one billion would. Changing the amount you owe in most cases won't change the amount you pay. The cost is only something to pay attention to if you're a high earner who's going to eventually clear the amount, which is not the majority of students (I doubt most STEM students even earn enough).

l.
thats a very reckless approach

many of us will reach the threshold and thats another thing deducted from our pay. if ur gonna be paying back money every month for potentially decades u dont want it being on some bs micky mouse degree we did years back and never actually used cos it was 'fun'

besides maintenance loans dont cover chit. there was a massive gap for me. i relied on overdrafts, parents money and part time work to cover costs and get through uni
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thotproduct
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If you're good at something, never do it for free.

Always good to follow the stuff you love, unless that happens to be mass producing and selling Class A drugs


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but I can make an excpetion if you bump me a cut :^)
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frostfly
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Go with the subject you love. I think you're way too young to decide for certain what job you want to do. I had an idea of what I wanted to do when I was 15 and have changed my mind about 4 times since...
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asif007
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(Original post by Stressedout007)
I am only in Year 10, so I do realise it is a tad early to be asking questione about university, but I was just wondering whether you should already have a career or job in mind when choosing your degree, or just choose what subject you enjoy, and find a job later?

Thanks!
Depends what kind of career you have in mind. If it's something you love and it's also secure and reliable work, you're sorted. But it can't be just one or the other. Myself for example, I love acting and dancing, but the reason I never chose to do a performing arts degree is because the work is inconsistent. I've got plenty of friends who are professional actors and dancers with performing arts degrees, but are stuck in retail work full-time and only doing what they love for a few weeks in a year. They earn just enough to live in London, but not enough to get extra training in their creative pursuits. Some of them have said that they wished they trained in something else that would have given them more secure work. That's not the kind of life I wanted, so I'm pursuing a stable career which I also love, and I consider myself lucky in that respect. Despite how much I love performing, I don't regret not choosing to train professionally. You have the rest of your life to do things you enjoy, but short-term your priority as a graduate and working adult is to earn to support yourself and maybe a family too.

I encourage anyone thinking about university to choose something with solid career prospects. Obviously you have to enjoy it and love what you do, but there's no point studying something you love for 3 years at university and then being unable to do anything with it afterwards. You have to be smart in this job market, and that extends beyond everything you do at university. It also means applying smart and going for the right jobs for which your qualifications are in demand. The best thing you can earn from a university degree is skills that are in demand. Have a career in mind first before you choose a university and course, and tailor your choices to where you want to end up.
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MKaur18
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(Original post by Stressedout007)
I am only in Year 10, so I do realise it is a tad early to be asking questione about university, but I was just wondering whether you should already have a career or job in mind when choosing your degree, or just choose what subject you enjoy, and find a job later?

Thanks!
Year 10 is super early to be thinking about this. I changed my mind between year 10 and year 13.. Comprimising what you enjoy or what you want is what you can see yourself doing for the next 10 years.. It's a tough decision to make, but see the subjects that you can enjoy and can also do well in. It's not the end of the world.. and you have ages to decide.
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Retired_Messiah
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(Original post by SJW-)
thats a very reckless approach

many of us will reach the threshold and thats another thing deducted from our pay. if ur gonna be paying back money every month for potentially decades u dont want it being on some bs micky mouse degree we did years back and never actually used cos it was 'fun'

besides maintenance loans dont cover chit. there was a massive gap for me. i relied on overdrafts, parents money and part time work to cover costs and get through uni
Most will likely hit the threshold unless they've done a degree in shrek studies or something. The payback rate isn't particularly high, and everybody earning over the threshold who isn't in with a shot of paying for the whole thing will pay back the same amount, regardless of whether they did 'some bs mickey mouse degree' or a degree that's "useful". So if you did a subject you really liked for 4 years (had 'fun'), or used it instead as a stepping stone to get a job you quite liked, the practical difference is...what exactly? You pay the same back to the govt in each case, and you're marginally fulfilled in both cases. It's good to note that doing a degree to get into a profession you like does not always mean getting a degree that'll earn you a lot more money.

Would agree with you on maintanence loans tho. Across all bands they expect some degree of parental support, and thus all tiers of maintanence fail to give enough to live off on their own. And that is dumb. The three plus years of missed income is something to take into account (yay oppurtunity cost), but if you have 0 career plans then you're unlikely to end up earning mad cash in that 3 years anyway. Once you leave uni and can work full time, paying off the overdraft shouldn't be tooo difficult assuming you don't spend 100% of money you make.
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