The Student Room Group

Feeling Lost - Universities

Hi everyone,
Being honest it has really just slapped me in the face recently. I'm not sure what I can do at this point in time. Going to keep anon for obvious reasons.

I have applied this year but for things like Politics, which I am coming to realize I am honestly not interested in. I don't want to be known as a Politics major. I only did it to try my hand at getting some economics modules because I love the subject and do not meet the Maths requirement for the real pure economics.

The probelm is now it's been 3 years since my A levels. Friends have started and finished degrees in the time I've spent out with not much to even show for it myself. I've an idea of what I want (economics) but its been tough with how many applicants now do fm and maths and everything else with the supercurriculars. I'd feel very behind to apply again.

I've only taken only AS Maths and unfortunately miss the mark on some GCSE requirements (6 in Maths) so haven't been able to apply to some courses. I was wondering if I should now consider taking the full Maths course to try apply or if I would be rejected given I retook one subject at alevel and I am sat at 3As (2 social science subjects + History), because it probably looks very bad on me now. I'm getting older and Im honestly lost at this point. I want to go to university but not for something perceived as not as intellectually challenging as Politics, and instead something worthwhile like Mathematics. But that means 1 more year out...I'm not sure.
Original post by Anonymous #1
Hi everyone,
Being honest it has really just slapped me in the face recently. I'm not sure what I can do at this point in time. Going to keep anon for obvious reasons.

I have applied this year but for things like Politics, which I am coming to realize I am honestly not interested in. I don't want to be known as a Politics major. I only did it to try my hand at getting some economics modules because I love the subject and do not meet the Maths requirement for the real pure economics.

The probelm is now it's been 3 years since my A levels. Friends have started and finished degrees in the time I've spent out with not much to even show for it myself. I've an idea of what I want (economics) but its been tough with how many applicants now do fm and maths and everything else with the supercurriculars. I'd feel very behind to apply again.

I've only taken only AS Maths and unfortunately miss the mark on some GCSE requirements (6 in Maths) so haven't been able to apply to some courses. I was wondering if I should now consider taking the full Maths course to try apply or if I would be rejected given I retook one subject at alevel and I am sat at 3As (2 social science subjects + History), because it probably looks very bad on me now. I'm getting older and Im honestly lost at this point. I want to go to university but not for something perceived as not as intellectually challenging as Politics, and instead something worthwhile like Mathematics. But that means 1 more year out...I'm not sure.
I don't really understand if you're not interested in the subject or if you wonder it's not "prestigious" enough. You say that you "don't want to be known as a politics major" and that politics is not perceived as "intellectually challenging". Honestly, if you're considering applying to top universities (which I think you are, considering you're on the Cambridge forum?), I think all courses will be challenging enough. Same goes for prestige. You do not need to do STEM (or economics for that matter) because it's considered "more difficult". It's simply a foolish reason, in my opinion, and you won't make it very far in your degree if you're not actually interested or motivated. If you are, however, you could definitely wait a year and then go for it. It might not hurt to apply to some less competitive universities, unless you want to do Math A level on your own (idk how hard that is, no experience here) and try again after that.
Sounds like you might be suited for PPE. Lots of universities offer it especially the prestigious Russel Groups. You don’t need maths A level and with 3A’s you have a good chance of getting in. I would do some research on this.
Reply 3
Original post by Bo77 Tman
Sounds like you might be suited for PPE. Lots of universities offer it especially the prestigious Russel Groups. You don’t need maths A level and with 3A’s you have a good chance of getting in. I would do some research on this.
Tbh I'm looking for universities like UCL/Warwick (Targets for ib) as an ideal priority. I considered politics and international relations but honestly reading the degree I actually hate it.

I hate politics and I don't know what I was thinking. I was wanting it just to take some of the more rigorous modules grounded in maths and economics But these are watered down too

UCL holds an A* in a-level maths requirement for ppe. So, if I were to spend all this time out and reapply next yr I still have no guarantee I will get an offer (especially as a student who =has taken alevels spaced out).
Reply 4
Original post by Anonymous #2
I don't really understand if you're not interested in the subject or if you wonder it's not "prestigious" enough. You say that you "don't want to be known as a politics major" and that politics is not perceived as "intellectually challenging". Honestly, if you're considering applying to top universities (which I think you are, considering you're on the Cambridge forum?), I think all courses will be challenging enough. Same goes for prestige. You do not need to do STEM (or economics for that matter) because it's considered "more difficult". It's simply a foolish reason, in my opinion, and you won't make it very far in your degree if you're not actually interested or motivated. If you are, however, you could definitely wait a year and then go for it. It might not hurt to apply to some less competitive universities, unless you want to do Math A level on your own (idk how hard that is, no experience here) and try again after that.
Politics isn't my cup of tea nor do I believe it would be challenging me at all (or enough) to go into so much debt for. I know where you're coming from that I am now believing a stereotype that may have been enforced on me, but in fact, I am thinking this of my own accord. I really do not enjoy politics nor the modules that seemed to be offered at UCL in the first year if you go over them yourself you'll see what questions it asks, none of which are intriguing me

As for universities I'm going to apply to some competitive ones mainly (targeting Investment Banking target unis) and going from there. Hence my options are narrowed and I feel its tough right now.
Original post by Anonymous
Hi everyone,
Being honest it has really just slapped me in the face recently. I'm not sure what I can do at this point in time. Going to keep anon for obvious reasons.

I have applied this year but for things like Politics, which I am coming to realize I am honestly not interested in. I don't want to be known as a Politics major. I only did it to try my hand at getting some economics modules because I love the subject and do not meet the Maths requirement for the real pure economics.

The probelm is now it's been 3 years since my A levels. Friends have started and finished degrees in the time I've spent out with not much to even show for it myself. I've an idea of what I want (economics) but its been tough with how many applicants now do fm and maths and everything else with the supercurriculars. I'd feel very behind to apply again.

I've only taken only AS Maths and unfortunately miss the mark on some GCSE requirements (6 in Maths) so haven't been able to apply to some courses. I was wondering if I should now consider taking the full Maths course to try apply or if I would be rejected given I retook one subject at alevel and I am sat at 3As (2 social science subjects + History), because it probably looks very bad on me now. I'm getting older and Im honestly lost at this point. I want to go to university but not for something perceived as not as intellectually challenging as Politics, and instead something worthwhile like Mathematics. But that means 1 more year out...I'm not sure.

Hi, I've moved this to the main applications forum since it's a bit more general discussing subject choices (it ended up in the university of Cambridge forum).

Firstly I think your reason for not wanting to do politics is questionable. Nobody thinks about subjects as "intellectually challenging" or "not intellectually challenging", at least nobody that's either been to uni or worked in a career level job before. Recruiters don't care about that stuff, people at unis (at least people worth knowing) don't care about that. It's a fiction created for selling newspapers for school leavers and similar who don't know better due to not having that experience yet. So maths (nor economics) is not "better" than politics.

Secondly the timeline angle is entirely irrelevant. So what if people you went to school with finished their degree now? There probably are one or two in the same boat as you even from your own school. And there are certainly many from across the UK who have had much larger gaps before going to uni. Being 21-23 and starting uni is nothing. You're essentially indistinguishable from school leavers as a fresher at that age. Also in the grand scheme a few years relative to a lifelong career is negligible. Whether it takes another year or two or not is trivial as a result.

Thirdly maths degrees even moreso than economics degrees really ideally need FM as preparation. It's required for a number of unis and especially if you've had a gap in education I think you really would benefit considerably from that much more extensive preparation in maths. Also for economics, while there are a few unis which don't require A-level Economics it's important to recognise you will cover that material in the degree, as well as FM material, and even the unis which don't require or expect FM will also teach you that FM material. You can't "avoid" it, and economics at degree level is generally necessarily mathematical. You really need a strong aptitude for and enjoyment of maths.

Fourthly, you should be very aware that the kind of maths done in a maths degree is totally unlike that in A-level Maths. It's almost like a whole new subject. It's very abstract, largely proof based. The kind of learning and approach to it is totally different to that in A-level Maths, and even if you enjoyed and did very well in A-level Maths/FM this doesn't necessarily mean you will enjoy and do well in a maths degree - some people just don't really gel with that abstract material (in which case you may find something like physics or engineering preferable, as you'll be doing maths in the manner of A-level Maths, just more advanced topics, day in and day out - solving differential equations, doing matrix computations, lots of calculus etc).

Finally, universities do not have such black and white perceptions of retakes and admissions as you seem to think (in fact in general your thinking here is very black and white across the board, which is perhaps a tad worrying - the reality is for almost everything, nothing is as straightforward as that). In that frame it's important to recognise a) taking a subject you were "missing" that is required for your course is not generally seen as a resit and b) even aside from that, universities usually expect those who have been out of education for about 3 years or so to have undertaken some recent education anyway so they have some evidence of what your academic abilities are now. So you would still most likely need to be looking at doing some kind of qualification (and A-level or two, OU modules, something similar) to demonstrate your current academic abilities, which could also practically be aimed at meeting subject requirements. Also universities tend to look at such applicants focusing on the more recent academic achievement, and even if your earlier academic achievement was weaker (which isn't the case here granted, but for reference for others) more recent strong achievement after 3+ years away from education tends to be viewed positively.

However I think before diving into picking some A-level(s) or similar to do, you need to go back to the start and think about why you have decided your original choice is unsuitable for you now and determine if that's actually an internal reason coming from you, or due to external influence based on erroneous ideas of how degrees and degree subjects are perceived. Because you could just as well do a politics degree at a target university and then go on to become an investment banker at Goldman Sachs or what have you. More generally, an economics grad has exactly the same jobs available to them as a politics grad with the exception of specific economic policy roles (e.g. in central banks, NGOs, the civil service) which are a very small group of roles available. Maths grads have some additional options in roles requiring a "numerate" degree in e.g. the engineering sector, but whether you would want to do that kind of job is another question entirely.

It's important to remember that a) most grads go into jobs and careers unrelated to the subject they studied at uni and b) academic research has found STEM and non-STEM grads have equivalent career outcomes within 10 years of graduating: https://figshare.le.ac.uk/articles/report/The_employment_trajectories_of_Science_Technology_Engineering_and_Mathematics_graduates/10234421

So don't fall into the trap of thinking just because a degree involves numbers in some capacity it's "better", because the reality is that's not how it works.
Original post by Anonymous #1
Tbh I'm looking for universities like UCL/Warwick (Targets for ib) as an ideal priority. I considered politics and international relations but honestly reading the degree I actually hate it.

I hate politics and I don't know what I was thinking. I was wanting it just to take some of the more rigorous modules grounded in maths and economics But these are watered down too

UCL holds an A* in a-level maths requirement for ppe. So, if I were to spend all this time out and reapply next yr I still have no guarantee I will get an offer (especially as a student who =has taken alevels spaced out).
Well for IB you will need a more quantitative degree course regardless of what uni you go to. PPE could still work because you can tailor your course to be more economics based if you want. 1st year are core modules sure but in 2nd year and 3rd year you can do more economics and ditch politics if you like. You don’t need A level maths as an entry requirement as they will teach you all the maths you need on the course. Warwick PPE is A*AA but can be lowered to AAB at most depending on your personal circumstances. That might be a shout. There are also a few other Russel group universities which are (IB targets) that also offer PPE with similar/ lower entry requirements. I don’t do PPE myself so I’m not that researched on it but if you look at the PPE rankings you will probably find that a lot of top universities will accept you with your grades.

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