Emma.11
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I do love English lit and would love to study it at uni (hopefully Cambridge!) but I sort of regret not choosing to do a STEM subject. I have been looking at graduate salaries and even from Cambridge English graduates have much smaller salaries and this has made me think I would have been better doing maths or chemistry, as I really enjoyed those subjects at GCSE and at alevel as I'm doing maths as well. I envy all my friends doing STEM subjects because they will have much better job prospects after graduating. But I never thought about this when picking my a levels.

Does anyone have advice on have I can stop feeling so regretful and stupid for picking to do an English Lit degree??
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EvieAlicia
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(Original post by Emma.11)
I do love English lit and would love to study it at uni (hopefully Cambridge!) but I sort of regret not choosing to do a STEM subject. I have been looking at graduate salaries and even from Cambridge English graduates have much smaller salaries and this has made me think I would have been better doing maths or chemistry, as I really enjoyed those subjects at GCSE and at alevel as I'm doing maths as well. I envy all my friends doing STEM subjects because they will have much better job prospects after graduating. But I never thought about this when picking my a levels.

Does anyone have advice on have I can stop feeling so regretful and stupid for picking to do an English Lit degree??
I was in the opposite position to you a couple of years ago. I had studied all STEM subjects at A Level, but even during my time at sixth form I really wished I was studying English Lit. Once I had finished sixth form I turned down my place to study maths and I self-studied an English Lit A Level. I'm now studying English/Art History at Uni.

I can completely understand where you are coming from. Occasionally - for example, when I have been searching through internships offered by the uni that are almost entirely for STEM subjects - I question my decision. But the truth is, I love my degree. If I am being honest with myself, had I took up my place to study maths I would have been miserable for three years (or, more likely, I would have dropped out). I'm not saying this to sway you towards English because it could be the complete opposite for you.

The best advice I can give you is to really think about what will make you happy. No degree will guarantee you a good job or a high salary, but enjoying your degree will likely mean you perform better.


If you are hoping to apply to Cambridge then you are likely a very motivated student but bear in mind that in order to apply to Oxbridge/top Russell Group unis for maths/chemistry you would have to take more a levels (Chemistry obviously if you want to study that, but most probably further maths too if you want to do maths). Of course, this is entirely possible - I did it over one year through the distance learning platform Open Study College. Alternatively, if you are just finishing year 12, I have a friend who started another A level in year 13, staying an extra year in sixth form to complete it- so that may be a possibility?

Finally, on feeling less regret over your choices I recommend you really think about why you have had this change of heart. How long have you felt this way? Is the salary the only thing motivating you to change to STEM? Would you say you enjoy your English and Maths A Levels equally? Do you have any particular jobs in mind?

Remember that you have time to change your mind. Ultimately, if you love English then try not to get hung up on the 'what ifs'.
Last edited by EvieAlicia; 1 month ago
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by Emma.11)
I do love English lit and would love to study it at uni (hopefully Cambridge!) but I sort of regret not choosing to do a STEM subject. I have been looking at graduate salaries and even from Cambridge English graduates have much smaller salaries and this has made me think I would have been better doing maths or chemistry, as I really enjoyed those subjects at GCSE and at alevel as I'm doing maths as well. I envy all my friends doing STEM subjects because they will have much better job prospects after graduating. But I never thought about this when picking my a levels.

Does anyone have advice on have I can stop feeling so regretful and stupid for picking to do an English Lit degree??
I regret choosing English a little, but that's mainly because I'm not sure what I want to do. I applied to Cambridge so if you want to talk about the process I'd be happy to, but I didn't get in in the end (to be honest it was kind of a relief because I hated the look of the course and I wanted to go to Durham to be with my bf, but the prestige was very appealing).

If you like English, then you should do it. STEM is overrated in my opinion. You don't need the highest salary, and there'll always be people with higher to be honest so you shouldn't worry too much about that. Just aim to be comfortable. English also does have the potential to be very lucrative. Remember you're just looking at averages. You need to do what you enjoy above all. The whole "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life". Plus, if your heart isn't in STEM, then you might not get the best degree and that won't lead to the top opportunities you're thinking about anyway.

Society needs people from all areas. If English is your thing, I urge you to stick with it.
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Emma.11
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(Original post by EvieAlicia)
I was in the opposite position to you a couple of years ago. I had studied all STEM subjects at A Level, but even during my time at sixth form I really wished I was studying English Lit. Once I had finished sixth form I turned down my place to study maths and I self-studied an English Lit A Level. I'm now studying English/Art History at Uni.

I can completely understand where you are coming from. Occasionally - for example, when I have been searching through internships offered by the uni that are almost entirely for STEM subjects - I question my decision. But the truth is, I love my degree. If I am being honest with myself, had I took up my place to study maths I would have been miserable for three years (or, more likely, I would have dropped out). I'm not saying this to sway you towards English because it could be the complete opposite for you.

The best advice I can give you is to really think about what will make you happy. No degree will guarantee you a good job or a high salary, but enjoying your degree will likely mean you perform better.


If you are hoping to apply to Cambridge then you are likely a very motivated student but bear in mind that in order to apply to Oxbridge/top Russell Group unis for maths/chemistry you would have to take more a levels (Chemistry obviously if you want to study that, but most probably further maths too if you want to do maths). Of course, this is entirely possible - I did it over one year through the distance learning platform Open Study College. Alternatively, if you are just finishing year 12, I have a friend who started another A level in year 13, staying an extra year in sixth form to complete it- so that may be a possibility?

Finally, on feeling less regret over your choices I recommend you really think about why you have had this change of heart. How long have you felt this way? Is the salary the only thing motivating you to change to STEM? Would you say you enjoy your English and Maths A Levels equally? Do you have any particular jobs in mind?

Remember that you have time to change your mind. Ultimately, if you love English then try not to get hung up on the 'what ifs'.
Thank you for this! I think I would rather do maths than chemistry, if I decided to change to STEM, so I would only need Further maths as well. I think the higher salary is the biggest thing that makes me want to change, but also all my friends so STEM subjects, so that is also the reason. I also don't feel as clever as the people doing STEM - they're doing complicated things in furthermaths and physics and I am just analysing poetry, and some are doing 4 a levels and I am only doing 3 which again makes me feel stupid. And I really don't like one of my english teachers, and this has made me lose my love of english quite a lot.

At the moment I prefer maths to English but I am not sure if this is just because I don't enjoy some of my lessons because of my teacher. I wish I had taken maths, further maths and english (and another subject) back in september then I would have a better idea of what I prefer and would be able to chose to do maths at uni.

So either I will do english at uni, or start self studying furthermaths now, and either ask my school if I can take the exam in yr13 or the year after?
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EvieAlicia
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(Original post by Emma.11)
Thank you for this! I think I would rather do maths than chemistry, if I decided to change to STEM, so I would only need Further maths as well. I think the higher salary is the biggest thing that makes me want to change, but also all my friends so STEM subjects, so that is also the reason. I also don't feel as clever as the people doing STEM - they're doing complicated things in furthermaths and physics and I am just analysing poetry, and some are doing 4 a levels and I am only doing 3 which again makes me feel stupid. And I really don't like one of my english teachers, and this has made me lose my love of english quite a lot.

At the moment I prefer maths to English but I am not sure if this is just because I don't enjoy some of my lessons because of my teacher. I wish I had taken maths, further maths and english (and another subject) back in september then I would have a better idea of what I prefer and would be able to chose to do maths at uni.

So either I will do english at uni, or start self studying furthermaths now, and either ask my school if I can take the exam in yr13 or the year after?
You seem to have a practical approach to it, and my advice would be to do what makes you happy. I would recommend that you don't drop any of your A levels in favour of the further maths (completing all the ones you've started gives you the most choice and flexibility in the end). I think you have the right idea asking your school how to approach the further maths A Level - they'll know the best path to take. Also consider checking out the further maths content, here are the Dr Frost maths powerpoints for AS Pure further maths https://www.drfrostmaths.com/sow.php?year=A%20Level%202017&term=CorePure1 (its for the edexcel spec, but it will give you an idea). Although further maths is generally expected for maths applicants, do check if it's strictly necessary for the unis you are applying for - you may find you don't need to take the extra A level.]https://www.drfrostmaths.com/sow.php?year=A%20Level%202017&term=CorePure1[/url] (its for the edexcel spec, but it will give you an idea). Although further maths is generally expected for maths applicants, do check if it's strictly necessary for the unis you are applying for - you may find you don't need to take the extra A level.

On feeling less clever than those doing STEM - I completely understand. If you say you're studying maths, the response will be 'you must be very intelligent'. When you say you're studying english, the usual response is 'so do you want to be a teacher?' (a great profession, but not the only one open to an english graduate). It can be frustrating especially when, in school, the emphasis is always on academic excellence - somehow you feel you've taken the easy option, or that you are not reaching your potential because you've chosen the humanities. The feeling still hits me occasionally, but in the end I know I made the right choice for me. Though it is nigh on impossible, try to not to let other people's perceptions of you affect this particular decision. Also, doing 4 A Levels at once is no longer expected by universities, and probably not worth it - it drains all your time and usually either your grades suffer, or you end up in a state of constant stress and very little down time.

I think the best thing you can do is really think about it - let it stew. Talk to your school about how to approach further maths, finish the A levels you've started, and even consider taking a 'gap' year of sorts (whether to sit the further maths, or just to come to a final decision). Speak to people who know you well and will offer you solid advice. Try to avoid those who flippantly tell you to dismiss it/ just carry on/can't be bothered to listen to your complete explanation - they are not right people to help you make this decision. Ultimately, try to trust your gut - enjoyment is key. Graduate salaries are averages, and are by no means guaranteed. Money is important, but try not to let it be the determining factor. Question whether the change to STEM is motivated by the prospective salaries only, or if, underneath that, you truly think you would be happier studying STEM.

Go to the university (virtual) open days and sit in on both the english and maths department talks - look through the modules offered and consider which lectures you would rather be in on 9am on a monday morning.

And always remember: you don't have to know what you want to do at 18. One decision now doesn't dictate the trajectory of your life.

Good luck in whatever path you choose
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eduorclinpsych
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Go for your passion, not something that might open up higher salary roles at the start of your career.

Don't forget, many people are now going on to study a STEM subject as a second degree due to changes in government funding allowing graduates to access the loans to study a STEM degree.
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NovaeSci
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I'm personally going to be starting a Physics with Astrophysics degree, but I also have a passion for creative writing. I studied the Writers' Bureau course; however, I discovered the UK Writers College which provides some great courses. I just thought I'd mention this in case you wanted to do English for writing purposes. I get to do both of my passions, without compromising the other
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