Keeping Your Options Open


From the age of eight I knew that I was going to be an “English Student.” Now of course back then I wasn’t thinking about university, my dream was to become an author, or an astronaut. As I grew up I found a love for journalism and decided this was the line of work I wanted to pursue. I was sorted, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Or at least I thought I did, because between leaving ZIS and having a (what I hope will be successful) career, there’s the small matter of a university degree.

Naturally, I thought I would receive an English degree, specifically English Language. I was fairly certain journalism involved writing, therefore this was the perfect path, lit with metaphorical sunlight, down which to travel.

And that was when my parade was well and truly rained on.

It all started with the University Fair. I had, as instructed, highlighted a number of universities to whom I wished to speak, even going so far as to dress smartly for the occasion. An effort that was slightly marred by the amount of paint I had managed to distribute onto my clothing. Just one of the perks of being an IB Art student. But I digress. I walked into the theater somewhat confidently and headed straight for the first university on my list, Warwick.

Imagine my surprise when it came to my attention that Warwick does not offer an English Language degree. Instead, they had a Literature course. I was slightly taken aback, but not deterred, until I found that all of the universities I had looked at were in the same boat. Gradually, I become more and more anxious. Had I invented a degree that didn’t exist?

Once home I was overwhelmed by a growing sense of panic. I scoured the internet looking for the degree I wanted and, success, I found it. But upon looking more closely at exactly what the English Language degree involved my heart sank. This wasn’t the course for me at all. My picture perfect plan had been shattered into a million tiny pieces. What was I going to do now? The answer was simple; eat cake and cry.

I exaggerate (sort of) but finding out that something you thought to be certainty in your life isn’t actually is scary. It means rethinking a lot of things. I knew I still wanted to pursue journalism, but had ruled out taking a straightforward Journalism degree for various reasons.

Over October break I visited the University of Birmingham. My mum, being the ever efficient human that she is, had outlined a schedule for the day. We would hop from tour to mock lecture back to tour attend a subject fair break for lunch attend another lecture and embark on one last tour.

We later ventured into the main building to speak to students and faculty about the subjects offered. Whatever hope I still had about my future in English Language was dashed after my conversation with a lovely, young lady hoping to go into speech therapy. For her, it was the perfect course, focusing on the origins of words and phonetics, for me it was hell. My earlier concerns had just been confirmed.

I turned to my mum who was currently learning all about the requirements of enrolling in a physics course- like that was going to happen- and one look at my obvious proximity to complete meltdown caused her to jump into action. She steered me towards the nearest course stand-philosophy.

At the stand, I obligingly asked the man there about the course. He told me my lack of experience in Philosophy, as I was unable to take the course this year, was not a problem. He also gave me a quick rundown of the syllabus, what modules were compulsory and which others I could select from.

Now you know that part in a movie where the main character’s eyes lock on something so utterly beautiful that it glows with golden light, yes?, well that’s how I felt.

It was as if I had stepped through the wardrobe and found myself in the Great Woods of Narnia in which trees fell and nobody heard them so they didn’t make a sound.

All bad philosophy references aside, I left the Open Day feeling far better about my future in higher education. Since then I’ve been researching various philosophy degrees including joint honours with subjects like politics, something I never would have considered a couple of months ago.

I understand that some careers require very specific university degrees, however for those of you who have a wider choice, think broadly. Don’t put yourself in a box and shut the lid on all the options out there. It’s ok to try something completely new, it’s ok to not take the subject you liked best in high school, or got the best mark in.

And if you don’t have a clue what career path you want to venture down, even better. You have free range of all the possible courses out there, so pick the one(s) that interests you the most.

So morals of the story:

  1. Don’t label yourself
  2. Don’t assume you know what a course entails
  3. Don’t be afraid to try something new

And finally,

  1. Don’t try and make philosophy jokes


By:┬áKathleen Falconer (’16)


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