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What subject should I do at university?

If you’re not sure what you want to study at university, check out these ideas to help you decide.

Choosing which course to apply for is one of the biggest decisions of your life. It will definitely determine what your next few years will be like and will probably have a big impact on the career you choose. Think about these questions to help you make the right choice.

What are you interested in now?

University work is very independent, so you'll have to be interested and dedicated to succeed. That means you need to pick a subject that interests you.

This doesn't just mean picking from your A-level subjects, though. There are many university courses that don't have an A-level equivalent, or don't require the relevant A-level, from Law to Outdoor Studies. Think about your interests outside the subjects you study and research the relevant courses that are available.

What are your strengths?

You should think about where your strengths lie when deciding what to study. This will improve your chances of getting a place, doing well on your course and finding a job when you graduate. Remember that your university course is likely to be a big step up from A-level, so a subject you struggle to keep up with may be a stretch at uni.

What job would you like to have?

This is always a difficult question, but try to imagine what kind of career you’d like. Sometimes the path is obvious: if you think you want to be a brain surgeon, for example, then you should look at medicine degrees. If you would like to be a psychologist, research degrees in psychology.

For other careers, it may be more difficult. If you're not sure what the right path for the career you want, try researching it on Prospects, or ask around to see if you can get in touch with someone working in the same area who can advise you.

What does the course involve?

Don't make the mistake of applying for a course just because you like the subject at school, or you think it's an interesting area. You also need to investigate the specific course you're applying for to make sure that it suits you. Keep in mind that different universities offer very different courses for the same subject, so picking the right one is just as important as picking the right subject.

Try to go to subject-specific open days, read the prospectus carefully and talk to former students about the course. This is particularly important if you're planning on studying a subject that's new to you.

Who can I talk to?

Often your school teachers will have a good idea of what your skills and interests are and should be able to give you advice on what course will suit you. Talk to the people who teach the subjects you enjoy - they might be able to tell you more about higher education courses and careers relating to the subject you’re interested in. It's also worth contacting university departments to ask for more details about courses you're interested in, especially if you have particular concerns about the course.

What if I make the wrong decision?

If you start your course and realize that it wasn't the right one for you, it is possible to change. However, you will normally have to reapply and miss a year, especially if you're moving university.

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