How to tailor your degree to suit your needs

Find out how you can make your degree work for you

Life is all about choice these days – scrolling through Netflix trying to find something to binge, browsing Deliveroo’s pizza options… But what about the slightly more important life choices, like how you study your degree?

Gone are the days when universities tried to push every undergraduate along the same well-trodden path, only for them to emerge three or four years later with an identikit degree. Nowadays, more unis are giving you the chance to not only choose the subject you want to study, but also how you study it.

So, before making your final UCAS choices, it’s well worth thinking about how you want to tailor your degree to suit your needs, and how this will help you achieve your long-term goals.

How does it work?

Personalisation does pretty much what it says on the tin; it’s all about creating a learning experience that is tailored to you as an individual. The aim of this is to ensure your time at uni gives you exactly what you need so that, come graduation day, you’ll emerge with the skills and experience required to land your dream job.

This might be some time studying abroad. It may be an extended work placement. It may even be encouraging you to fulfill a lifelong ambition to become an opera singer. But by building choice into your degree, universities aim to provide you with a whole host of opportunities to help you develop transferable skills and gain meaningful experience to boost your CV. After all, this could be what gets you one step closer to securing that dream job.

One of the first universities to have embraced personalisation is Nottingham Trent University (NTU) Business School.

Here, students are assigned academic mentors at the start of the first year, who work individually with students to set out personal objectives and create an individual development plan.

Goals can range from securing voluntary experience to helping the student land a placement at their dream employer. It may even include developing an entrepreneurial idea into a live business, through competitions like the Thinkubator Challenge or Business Leaders Lecture Series.

Students will continue working towards these goals whilst at uni and will regularly review their objectives with their mentor. The ultimate aim is to make sure that by the end of the degree, individuals are equipped with the experience and qualifications to help them land that all-important first job.

What kind of personalisation is available?

Exactly what choices and support on offer will vary across universities and courses, but a couple of examples of potential options are:

  • Studying abroad
  • Short-term study tours to partner universities
  • Extended internships
  • Extra modules
  • Industry competitions
  • Summer schools
  • Time to volunteer or join societies.

Frank Attah, an undergraduate in International Business at NTU, chose to study abroad as part of his degree, as he wanted to experience a different culture and learn a new language.

He says: “The trip provided me with so many opportunities, both academic and personal; from learning to speak, read and write Mandarin Chinese, to backpacking all round South-East Asia.

“The time I spent there confirmed my desire for a career that offered an international lifestyle, as it showed me there is so much to experience in the world.”

What are the benefits?

Of course, every student has their own aspirations, goals and passions. For that reason, tailoring a degree around your specific needs really does offer up endless possibilities.

Abigail Sheppard, who studied International Business at Nottingham Trent University, says: “Course personalisation acts as a ‘skills builder’ for students to make them think about what they want out of the course and their time at university.

“Personalisation is a good way to get you thinking about life after uni. It allows you to explore different career paths alongside your course and build skills and work experience. It has been a great experience and I probably would never have found out about available opportunities without it.”

Another NTU undergrad, Lucy Broome, studies Business Management and Marketing and completed an internship as a Marketing Consultant at a manufacturing supplier.

She said: “My studies enabled me to develop a basic knowledge of how business works, but working in a company enabled me to understand these difficulties first-hand and appreciate how much work goes into helping a company survive.”

So, no matter what you choose to study, it’s always worth doing your research into what personalisation options are available to you to help you get the most out of your degree and time at uni. You can find out more about NTU’s course personalisation here.

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