Having an existential crisis about uni course (reconsidering English Lit) pls help! Watch

MJ1148
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Hi everyone, I’m in Year 12 and have recently been doing a lot of rethinking about what course I’m going to do at university.

Sorry about the long post but I need to give some background. If you don’t want to read it all then feel free to skip to the *** bit.If anyone could give me some advice I would be really grateful.

English has always been “my subject”. As a kid, I was very passionate about reading, but when I entered secondary school I developed other interests, though I still love writing, and generally chose to go on my phone rather than read a book. Now I have realised that this was a HUGE mistake and it has set me back so much. All my teachers expect me to do English at university, and it’s only my friend (who knows more about literature than anyone I have ever met, but is doing Law at uni) and my mum who are encouraging me to consider other courses.

At the moment I am doing French, Politics and English Literature at A-Level. Since Year 11 I have been preparing to do English Literature at university, and more specifically, Oxford. So far I’ve been completely invested in it, doing the extra reading, doing MOOCs, podcasts, and societies to do with English Literature. My school also has an Oxbridge program so I’m doing mentoring twice a week, one of them being a uni-style tutorial with my English teacher. I’ve always had a very clear vision of my future and so I’ve never had any problem with choosing GCSEs, A-Levels, and now my uni course. Now I feel kind of trapped since I don’t know what preparation I could do for any other course, and I feel like I’ve gone too far to turn back - until now, I couldn’t conceive of doing anything else.

I enjoy my English classes and I like analysing stuff and talking about it. But I find myself dreading the tutorial, which is a big red flag. I just feel like I’m pretending to be really passionate about what I’ve been set to read, and saying intelligent stuff that I feel like my teacher wants to hear. To be honest I just feel stupid and inferior, especially compared to others in the Oxbridge English group who have read so much and are VERY vocal about their passion for English (I’m pretty quiet which probably doesn’t help either). Most of all, my Law friend recommended that I watch a video about what a Cambridge student reads in a month, and seeing how much she had to read filled me with dread. I always thought that I could just force myself to get through the reading, but now that’s seems like it’s going to be very difficult, particularly since I want to go to Oxford, and I’m starting to think that their focus on medieval literature won’t suit me at all. (I know Cambridge has a more modern course but for other reasons I don’t want to go there.)

***So, I’m having a complete existential crisis. I feel like all these years I have been pretending that I still love reading as much as I did when I was a kid, but this can only go so far when I am forcing myself to read book after book that I don’t enjoy for three years of a uni course. My only other options are Politics or French, or Journalism at Cardiff, possibly combined with Politics/French.

I’ve also heard about flexible modules, where I could do a bit of English but my main course would not be English? I’ve looked into English Language/Linguistics, but I don’t know if that would help me with what I want to do and it seems to be mostly for non-native speakers. And is it even worth applying for Oxbridge if I don’t do English?

Other things:
relevant GCSE grades: English Lit 9, English Lang 8, French 9, History A*
future career: journalist(+author)
former best case scenario: English Language&Literature BA at Oxford followed by Journalism MA at Cardiff
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Saffana98
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I really can't advise you because frankly I don't know how to. But I really hope it all works out for you ..and I really don't think you have wasted your years up till now. Your have learned important skills and they will always help you
How many of us really know where we are going? Most of us just find stuff which interests us and do it...cause well..that's how we are able to live.
You really do like English ..but not in a way to make it your career. And that's okay.!! And all the knowledge you have acquired till now will only help you! No knowledge is ever wasted!!

What can you do now? Hmmm..I don't know I am an international student so I really don't know how your system works for home students. All I can say is all the best!! Don't freak out....be true to yourself. Your soul doesn't care about educational structure and tests. If you don't feel like it, it's okay!! Learning more about who you are will be so much more important in your life than an eng lit from Oxford.
All the writers you read about where true to themselves ( at lest while writing ) ...so why hurt your own life to read about them?
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erintse
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tbh i feel like if you dont have anything you are extremely passionate about and youve done nothing else leading up to this point then just go with your original plan, bc if you dont really like any thing else then the end result would be the same... In this case I would consider unis other than oxbridge if youre stressing about the workload!

But I would recommend giving yourself some time to explore something else first and see if you would like to study it in uni!

ps linguistics is fun! ive applied but i havent started the actual course yet (starts in oct) so i cant say for sure what its like exactly. I am an international student so you got me there best of luck in whatever you decide to do! xxx
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MJ1148
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Thank you so much! I am really interested in French & Politics as well but I’m wary about switching my plans to them. How did you prepare for linguistics and what A-Levels/qualifications did u do? xx
(Original post by erintse)
tbh i feel like if you dont have anything you are extremely passionate about and youve done nothing else leading up to this point then just go with your original plan, bc if you dont really like any thing else then the end result would be the same... In this case I would consider unis other than oxbridge if youre stressing about the workload!

But I would recommend giving yourself some time to explore something else first and see if you would like to study it in uni!

ps linguistics is fun! ive applied but i havent started the actual course yet (starts in oct) so i cant say for sure what its like exactly. I am an international student so you got me there best of luck in whatever you decide to do! xxx
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TheManTheMyth
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I think this is a difficult issue and I also had a similar experience. One of my teachers said that she enjoyed English at uni because it was more focused on the context when the texts were written (e.g. the politics of the Elizabethan era) so maybe you would enjoy it more then. Also don't set your sights on Oxford - look at other unis bc obviously it is very difficult to get in. Exeter have a wide range of modules on all their courses, and also look at Durham, Bristol, York etc. all top unis which may offer alternates to what Oxford have. Personally, I wouldn't take a journalism degree (undergrad anyway), it is quite weak.
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MJ1148
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Thank you, that’s really helpful. I am looking at Bristol and Exeter as well at the moment but will also look at Durham. I was advised against doing a journalism BA for that reason so I’m more keen on an MA. Are you at uni now?
(Original post by TheManTheMyth)
I think this is a difficult issue and I also had a similar experience. One of my teachers said that she enjoyed English at uni because it was more focused on the context when the texts were written (e.g. the politics of the Elizabethan era) so maybe you would enjoy it more then. Also don't set your sights on Oxford - look at other unis bc obviously it is very difficult to get in. Exeter have a wide range of modules on all their courses, and also look at Durham, Bristol, York etc. all top unis which may offer alternates to what Oxford have. Personally, I wouldn't take a journalism degree (undergrad anyway), it is quite weak.
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TheManTheMyth
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(Original post by MJ1148)
Thank you, that’s really helpful. I am looking at Bristol and Exeter as well at the moment but will also look at Durham. I was advised against doing a journalism BA for that reason so I’m more keen on an MA. Are you at uni now?
I've received offers for law, but I am not at uni yet.
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MJ1148
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(Original post by TheManTheMyth)
I've received offers for law, but I am not at uni yet.
Ahh well done, best of luck xx
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The Empire Odyssey
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As someone else has said, don't put all your eggs in one basket - look at other unis and not just Oxford.

I didn't really see a question in your thread so I don't know what sort of advice I can give you.

If you're being prepped for an Oxbridge course, then I would be worried if you didn't feel overwhelmed. But I don't know... There's other unis that are just as prestigious as Oxford (besides Cambridge). When it comes down it though, it doesn't really matter about what uni you went to. Walk into a job interview and say 'I went to Oxford' any employer nowadays wouldn't care. They want experience.

I wouldn't go with Linguistics unless you've done either Psychology/Biology/Language at A-level especially at RG unis as they tend to focus on the science aspect of language, rather than the social side. So neurolinguistics, psycholinguistics, the phonetic alphabet etc.

Stick to English Lit and then do your MA in Journalism.
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MJ1148
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Thank you so much for your help. I realise that I did only mention Oxford in this thread, however I am looking at a lot of other unis at the moment (Bristol, Southampton, Exeter, Cardiff etc). Oxford is what I'm most concerned about with this problem since if I'm not really determined to do English Lit and Lang there then it will be very very difficult for me to get in. I'm realistic about it and I know that if I don't get in, it's not the end of the world and there are loads of really good unis that I would be thrilled to go to. However, it is worth a try.

I think all my questions were at the end of my post (sorry I waffled on a bit since I was stressed out when I wrote it), but you answered my linguistics one anyway. I did talk to most of my teachers today about it and was advised to consider a combined course in Politics and English Lit. So maybe that's the way to go
(Original post by The Empire Odyssey)
As someone else has said, don't put all your eggs in one basket - look at other unis and not just Oxford.

I didn't really see a question in your thread so I don't know what sort of advice I can give you.

If you're being prepped for an Oxbridge course, then I would be worried if you didn't feel overwhelmed. But I don't know... There's other unis that are just as prestigious as Oxford (besides Cambridge). When it comes down it though, it doesn't really matter about what uni you went to. Walk into a job interview and say 'I went to Oxford' any employer nowadays wouldn't care. They want experience.

I wouldn't go with Linguistics unless you've done either Psychology/Biology/Language at A-level especially at RG unis as they tend to focus on the science aspect of language, rather than the social side. So neurolinguistics, psycholinguistics, the phonetic alphabet etc.

Stick to English Lit and then do your MA in Journalism.
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erintse
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Im doing physics, chemistry, biology and further maths in my own country which are alevel equivalent, but I do have an french AS equivalent too! hope it helps and hope u can find a subject that genuinely interests you xx
(Original post by MJ1148)
Thank you so much! I am really interested in French & Politics as well but I’m wary about switching my plans to them. How did you prepare for linguistics and what A-Levels/qualifications did u do? xx
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Benjamin McEvoy
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(Original post by MJ1148)
Hi everyone, I’m in Year 12 and have recently been doing a lot of rethinking about what course I’m going to do at university.

Sorry about the long post but I need to give some background. If you don’t want to read it all then feel free to skip to the *** bit.If anyone could give me some advice I would be really grateful.

English has always been “my subject”. As a kid, I was very passionate about reading, but when I entered secondary school I developed other interests, though I still love writing, and generally chose to go on my phone rather than read a book. Now I have realised that this was a HUGE mistake and it has set me back so much. All my teachers expect me to do English at university, and it’s only my friend (who knows more about literature than anyone I have ever met, but is doing Law at uni) and my mum who are encouraging me to consider other courses.

At the moment I am doing French, Politics and English Literature at A-Level. Since Year 11 I have been preparing to do English Literature at university, and more specifically, Oxford. So far I’ve been completely invested in it, doing the extra reading, doing MOOCs, podcasts, and societies to do with English Literature. My school also has an Oxbridge program so I’m doing mentoring twice a week, one of them being a uni-style tutorial with my English teacher. I’ve always had a very clear vision of my future and so I’ve never had any problem with choosing GCSEs, A-Levels, and now my uni course. Now I feel kind of trapped since I don’t know what preparation I could do for any other course, and I feel like I’ve gone too far to turn back - until now, I couldn’t conceive of doing anything else.

I enjoy my English classes and I like analysing stuff and talking about it. But I find myself dreading the tutorial, which is a big red flag. I just feel like I’m pretending to be really passionate about what I’ve been set to read, and saying intelligent stuff that I feel like my teacher wants to hear. To be honest I just feel stupid and inferior, especially compared to others in the Oxbridge English group who have read so much and are VERY vocal about their passion for English (I’m pretty quiet which probably doesn’t help either). Most of all, my Law friend recommended that I watch a video about what a Cambridge student reads in a month, and seeing how much she had to read filled me with dread. I always thought that I could just force myself to get through the reading, but now that’s seems like it’s going to be very difficult, particularly since I want to go to Oxford, and I’m starting to think that their focus on medieval literature won’t suit me at all. (I know Cambridge has a more modern course but for other reasons I don’t want to go there.)

***So, I’m having a complete existential crisis. I feel like all these years I have been pretending that I still love reading as much as I did when I was a kid, but this can only go so far when I am forcing myself to read book after book that I don’t enjoy for three years of a uni course. My only other options are Politics or French, or Journalism at Cardiff, possibly combined with Politics/French.

I’ve also heard about flexible modules, where I could do a bit of English but my main course would not be English? I’ve looked into English Language/Linguistics, but I don’t know if that would help me with what I want to do and it seems to be mostly for non-native speakers. And is it even worth applying for Oxbridge if I don’t do English?

Other things:
relevant GCSE grades: English Lit 9, English Lang 8, French 9, History A*
future career: journalist(+author)
former best case scenario: English Language&Literature BA at Oxford followed by Journalism MA at Cardiff
If you feel inferior now, that will only get worse when you're actually in Oxford (trust me, I went).

It took me basically 2.5 years to actually kind of like tutorials. Most of the time, I dreaded them and there was definitely an atmosphere of intellectual superiority and pretentiousness, which sucked because, like you, I wasn't even passionate enough about most of the books on the reading list.

You want to be a journalist. English at Ox will help you with that. Obviously, so will your Journalism at Cardiff. The Oxford name will help you get your foot in the door of big publications, but you'll probably have a better time/quality of life at Cardiff. But most big publications are dying out anyway, and who knows what the state of the media will be like a few years down the road.

Where's your heart/gut pulling you? Honestly?
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MJ1148
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(Original post by Benjamin McEvoy)
If you feel inferior now, that will only get worse when you're actually in Oxford (trust me, I went).

It took me basically 2.5 years to actually kind of like tutorials. Most of the time, I dreaded them and there was definitely an atmosphere of intellectual superiority and pretentiousness, which sucked because, like you, I wasn't even passionate enough about most of the books on the reading list.

You want to be a journalist. English at Ox will help you with that. Obviously, so will your Journalism at Cardiff. The Oxford name will help you get your foot in the door of big publications, but you'll probably have a better time/quality of life at Cardiff. But most big publications are dying out anyway, and who knows what the state of the media will be like a few years down the road.

Where's your heart/gut pulling you? Honestly?
Hi, thanks so much for your comment. I've recently decided to go with my gut and am now going to try for Politics and French at other unis. I feel like I needed to make a decision as I was having so much unnecessary anxiety over it, and so far I don't regret it . Do you wish you had chosen a different degree course, or was the Oxford experience worth it?
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Benjamin McEvoy
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Fantastic Sounds like you've made the right decision! I wish you all the best luck with it!!

Part of me wishes I had chosen another degree course (Psychology or some language combination), but another part of me wishes I'd skipped Oxford altogether. It was a stressful time and I'm convinced my time would have been better spent working a career/apprenticeship. Having said that though, I did get a lot of valuable experiences out of my time there that I wouldn't change for the world.
(Original post by MJ1148)
Hi, thanks so much for your comment. I've recently decided to go with my gut and am now going to try for Politics and French at other unis. I feel like I needed to make a decision as I was having so much unnecessary anxiety over it, and so far I don't regret it . Do you wish you had chosen a different degree course, or was the Oxford experience worth it?
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