willbottone
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I'm a Year 12 student, currently studying Biology Psychology and Economics A-levels, trying to decide what to study at university. I enjoy psychology a lot and have found one path to go down: clinical psychology. I know I would need to do a Psychology degree and then a post-graduate clinical psychology course after that.On the other hand, outside of school I attend a drama group at my local theatre and I love to perform there in all of the productions including both plays and musicals. This path would take me to drama school to get a BA in Acting (looking at Guildhall, Mountview etc).I feel that if I choose the psychology route, I will regret not attempting the acting route. I also feel that if I follow the acting route and am struggling to find work, I'll regret not studying psychology.Does anyone have any ideas or advice on what I should do?
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National Careers Service
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(Original post by willbottone)
I'm a Year 12 student, currently studying Biology Psychology and Economics A-levels, trying to decide what to study at university. I enjoy psychology a lot and have found one path to go down: clinical psychology. I know I would need to do a Psychology degree and then a post-graduate clinical psychology course after that.On the other hand, outside of school I attend a drama group at my local theatre and I love to perform there in all of the productions including both plays and musicals. This path would take me to drama school to get a BA in Acting (looking at Guildhall, Mountview etc).I feel that if I choose the psychology route, I will regret not attempting the acting route. I also feel that if I follow the acting route and am struggling to find work, I'll regret not studying psychology.Does anyone have any ideas or advice on what I should do?
Hi there,

This is certainly a tough decision and it's great that you're putting a lot of time and thought into it, many don't.

Acting is an interesting profession in that you don't technically need any qualifications to get into it but many people choose to study it as a way of learning the skills and getting the contacts. So it could be possible to study psychology and do some amateur dramatics or extra work in your free time and seeing if it leads somewhere.

If you did choose acting as a degree and completed that degree, you'd be eligible to apply for a psychology conversion course, which is an MSc in psychology aimed at those with a first degree in a different subject. In short, it's a fast track psychology degree for people who've been doing something else and want to retrain. These courses don't exist in a lot of subjects but they're common in psychology because it's a popular thing for people to change career to after doing something else for a while.

Some people find it useful to hear from people who are already doing the jobs that they're considering. The icould website has some video stories from an actor and a clinical psychologist where they explain a bit about the roles and how they got into them. It could help your decision to hear what they have to say. If you have any friends, relatives or even friends of relatives who do either of these jobs, ask their opinion if you can.

Psychologist - icould.com/stories/claire-c/
Actor - icould.com/stories/jason-flemying/

Hope this helps, best of luck - Mark
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willbottone
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(Original post by National Careers Service)
Hi there,

This is certainly a tough decision and it's great that you're putting a lot of time and thought into it, many don't.

Acting is an interesting profession in that you don't technically need any qualifications to get into it but many people choose to study it as a way of learning the skills and getting the contacts. So it could be possible to study psychology and do some amateur dramatics or extra work in your free time and seeing if it leads somewhere.

If you did choose acting as a degree and completed that degree, you'd be eligible to apply for a psychology conversion course, which is an MSc in psychology aimed at those with a first degree in a different subject. In short, it's a fast track psychology degree for people who've been doing something else and want to retrain. These courses don't exist in a lot of subjects but they're common in psychology because it's a popular thing for people to change career to after doing something else for a while.

Some people find it useful to hear from people who are already doing the jobs that they're considering. The icould website has some video stories from an actor and a clinical psychologist where they explain a bit about the roles and how they got into them. It could help your decision to hear what they have to say. If you have any friends, relatives or even friends of relatives who do either of these jobs, ask their opinion if you can.

Psychologist - icould.com/stories/claire-c/
Actor - icould.com/stories/jason-flemying/

Hope this helps, best of luck - Mark
Thank you so much for your help Mark... this has really been an eye-opener I didn't even think about a conversion course after an Acting degree! I'll definitely look onto those sites that you linked and I'll search up some conversion courses. Thanks again!
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Lord Asriel
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(Original post by willbottone)
I'm a Year 12 student, currently studying Biology Psychology and Economics A-levels, trying to decide what to study at university. I enjoy psychology a lot and have found one path to go down: clinical psychology. I know I would need to do a Psychology degree and then a post-graduate clinical psychology course after that.On the other hand, outside of school I attend a drama group at my local theatre and I love to perform there in all of the productions including both plays and musicals. This path would take me to drama school to get a BA in Acting (looking at Guildhall, Mountview etc).I feel that if I choose the psychology route, I will regret not attempting the acting route. I also feel that if I follow the acting route and am struggling to find work, I'll regret not studying psychology.Does anyone have any ideas or advice on what I should do?
This isn't just in response to your comment, but a wider point about 17-18 year olds making far impacting decisions about options you mention are very popular among young people, but often poorly understood.

For clinical psychology, it's a highly competitive route after an undergraduate degree, where 85% of people who meet the requirements aren't able to be succesful, with the average age of qualification currently around 30. Clinical Psychology isn't just doing therapy or talking to people, but there is a huge academic and research element involved, with increasing emphasis on service development, supervision/ leadership and systemic working.

Acting, in contrast, isn't a particularly academic field but is equally, if not more, competitive to create an economically sustainable career. In some ways, decisions are made earlier (i.e. if you get into somewhere RADA, that is a really good indication for your prospects, but still not a guarantee), but there are no shortage of articles showing that over half of actors live below the poverty line.

This isn't to blame young people at all. Career advice in these two areas is often terrible, and neither really offer widely available chances to shadow working professionals (n.b not the same as watching an actor act, or a clinical psychologist provide treatment).
Also I would be careful of is of people offering training/education in these areas who hold unrealistic views of what graduates go onto to do. Sadly, these can often be schools and universities themselves, (or even sometimes parents).

Instead, if you have a chance to meet actual psychologists or actors outside of work, and talk to them about the ups and downs of the career, that is probably the best starting point. Failing that, talk to graduates of that subject (either online here or in real life) 12 months after university, as they are more likely to give you a clearer picture of what you may be facing in the future after the glitz and romanticism of graduation has faded.
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DuckDodgers
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I'm not an actor but I've worked in theatres and now with psychology students...

If you're interested in production I'd suggest taking a practical degree and aligning that with your interest in drama. Neither psychology nor acting are easy career fields but presently there's a huge surge in people with strong visual talents. Generally speaking, if the degree requires putting together a portfolio then there's a good chance you'll find an interesting career at the end of it (unless you take photography).

Psychology? Well, it's interesting and potentially a better career but it's a long and winding road to get there. Also highly competitive. The early parts involve placements, sometimes with difficult people, and these are usually challenging and not at all well paid. From experience, it really seems like you need the strongest of all passions to succeed (therefore making is similar to acting too!).

Another good thing about acting is that you won't simply be performing - unless you choose to. You'll get a good understand of many different components of the stage, and that provides an opportunity to learn about stage management, lighting, sound, etc. The reality though is that most acting students just want to be actors and that's probably something I'd advice against because it's too hard.
Last edited by DuckDodgers; 4 weeks ago
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annieeboo
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I'm in a similar situation except I love horses but I'm also really academic. I love science, maths and I would love to go to uni to study something like that. However, I would love to show jump and work with horses whilst being academic. Getting a job with horses is difficult and it's hard to actually get paid. Most people working in the horse industry are either poor or rich and most have to be self-employed (which scares me!!). I don't have the money to ride horses or train them really professionally for a living. But I would be broke attempting to do that. I also hate the risk of possibly not getting employed- I would hate myself. And if I couldn't handle being self-employed or it didn't work out I would be so annoyed! As well as this- I love academia. It feels like it's one or the other. full force into horses or full force into something academic because I'm not sure if I could balance them both. I'm super conflicted, they could both work out but either route I would feel a piece of me missing.

I haven't got it figured out, but here's my advice anyway:

Just follow your heart honestly. If you're happy in the end it doesn't matter. Are you academic and passionate about psychology? If you are, do you see yourself having doing the role/ chores involved in the environment and working hours? I would first look into whether you would enjoy the degree itself though, are you cut out to be an academic uni student? It's a lot of debt, a lot of time and a lot of hard work. However, if you enjoy the subject and are motivated you would have a great time. Then I would look into the actual career paths at the end of it. You might change your mind but still see yourself getting a job in psychology. What's employability like, working hours and would you enjoy what you would be doing?

It's the same for acting, look into the career paths, the logistics of it and ask yourself if you'd be up for all of it.

For another option, you could always study psychology somewhere where there's an acting society or uni team. For example at Cambridge there's a dance team- they might do this for acting at other unis.

What you could do is act on the side of studying for psychology. I would say one of the routes could be a plan B but either way, you probably need a lot of hard work put into the one subject.

It sounds stupid to ask you 'what are you most passionate about' so I won't. Because ultimately it also comes down to which path is more logical for you. If you study Acting but have no chance of making a living at the end of it, you'll probably be upset and regret your decision. Same with psychology, you might always feel like a part of you is missing.

You could always write out the pros and cons of each route, learn more about where they could lead you and maybe even go to some acting/psychology universities. You might decide that you hate the idea of the course...

Don't be put off by people saying 'oh that route's too hard', both routes are hard it's just a matter of which one suits you the best.

Good luck, I hope it all works out for you!!!
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Amelie2499
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Hey!
I am currently at the LSE studying History, but I want to be an actress and filmmaker. I remember being in the same position as you a few years ago (I still am). To be completely honest, follow your heart. I am doing an academic degree because I *thought* that's what I wanted to do and I wanted social recognition, but I am so desperate. I started making short films and projects when I was around 11, and I have always wanted deep inside to work in the film industry.
Many people will tell you to take the 'safe' path but if that's not what you 100% want to do, you won't be fulfilled and therefore not successful. After graduating from LSE, I will not do a master degree or work in finance like everyone here is planning on doing, I will follow my passion.
The film/theatre industries are really tough, but I'd rather fight for something I love than fight for something I don't enjoy doing (because uni work is tough too, so you gotta like it).
Of course, it is a tough decision, but really listen to yourself, not to what society tells you to do
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