Are you having the symptoms of a mid degree crisis?
The solution might be simpler than you think…
Photo courtesy of Pixabay on Pexels
by Blaise Jones
With the end of the first semester rapidly approaching it is not unusual for many students to be facing doubts about their chosen degree. The idea of drastic change can be overwhelmingly daunting but it is comforting to know that this is not an unusual situation and many students are experiencing the exact same thing. Many of us jump straight from High School into University, which doesn’t leave much room for contemplation over our degree once it has been decided. Unless you are part of the lucky few who have had the same vivid career-driven dream since they were a child, then it is very possible that your future is marred with uncertainty and confusion. However, all is not lost, as change is entirely possible, and the future is not as bleak as you may think! I talked to three students at the University of Aberdeen to find out their incentives and thought processes behind changing degrees.
Daniel - Film & Visual Culture and International Relations to Politics & International Relations
Jodie - Scots Law to English Lit
Tam - Primary Education to Animal Behaviour
When did you first begin to realise your chosen degree wasn’t for you?
Daniel : Well, I was thinking about it from year one to be honest because I knew that you would have this 50% split and that the courses don’t really go well together. I don’t think I had one specific moment… Probably it was just before the summer when I had this amazing opportunity to go to two film festivals and I got to meet professional film critics. A lot of these high profile writers didn’t necessarily have a background in film so I realised it is something I can still pursue whether I continue to study it or not.
Jodie : Probably in the very beginning, to be honest. In fact, I probably knew before I even started that there were other degrees I would rather be doing but I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and told myself I would get a good job when I graduated. I am now a lot less naïve and realise there is no point wasting your life on something you aren’t passionate about.
Tam : As soon as I started. I enjoyed my extra electorates (including Psychology, which I do now) more than my actual degree. Also everyone I knew studied Zoology; pulling apart animals looked a lot more fun.
What made you finally make the change?
Daniel : It’s not like you are studying two things at once - it’s completely split in half so that you’re only studying 50% of politics and 50% of film - which isn’t a huge issue in the first two years. However, in third and fourth year you feel like you’re not getting the proper workload for either course. I was always aiming to focus on just the one - either film or politics.
Jodie : I think I was just tired of convincing myself that law was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I couldn’t see a future in it for myself, and I just hated it more and more as time went on. The workload is very intense and I feel like to really succeed in the field, since it’s so competitive, you really need to love what you’re doing. I also feel like it limited me in so many aspects of my life… I didn’t have any time for the things I was passionate about anymore and I became miserable.
Tam : Honestly, a whole bunch of factors. I was never 100% set on teaching in the first place. It was just the easiest thing I could get work experience for in Skye and is the easiest way into Uni. The idea of being stuck in Scotland my entire career gives me actual chills, and I didn’t really vibe with the people on the course at all.
Have you ever had any regrets over your decision?
Daniel : Well from next year on they will have this really cool screen writing course. To be fair, I had already studied screenwriting on my year abroad so it is not necessarily a big regret. There were always many pros and cons over the decision so I can’t really say I have any big regrets.
Jodie : Never. Honestly I don’t even think about it. English is literally the perfect degree for me and I can’t imagine my life any other way. Maybe not waiting until almost two years to change is a regret.
Tam : No. I really enjoy my current degree and feel a lot more relaxed. Before I was just constantly thinking about if I was doing the right thing.
Can you imagine yourself on the alternative life path if you hadn’t swapped degrees?
Daniel : Yeah for sure, like just because on paper I’m a politics student it doesn’t mean I’m dedicating my entire life towards it. On the contrary, it seems like I’m just using politics when it comes to uni but in my free time I am dedicated to film. I’m part of the film-making society and part of a radio show so I think I’ve managed to find a good balance.
Jodie : I feel like if I had continued to study law I would have eventually crashed anyway. Like even if I did continue, I don’t think it was ever what I was destined to do with my life. I would be a really bad lawyer. If I hadn’t changed I would have been forced to drop out of uni completely and waste even more time so quite honestly I don’t think law was ever going to be an extended part of my life path.
Tam : I can and I don’t like it. I think I would be a lot more stressed and unhappy than I am at the moment.
What advice would you give to students who are similarly doubting their chosen degree?
Daniel : Make sure making the change is 100% what you want to do. It’s really helpful to have a list of pros and cons, you shouldn’t make any impulsive decisions. Everyone’s different and has their own agenda but listen to what your peers and family have to say. Be open to their advice but not necessarily obey it. It’s your life, so it’s your decision, so you think about it!
Jodie : It’s difficult because I really understand how hard a decision it can be to make. I think it can reach a point where you struggle to justify your own decision to yourself and it feels like you’re just studying your degree for no reason. Expectations from others can really make you believe that it’s the end of the world if you switch, but really everything stays the same, you just realise you’re living a life more true to yourself.
Tam : Swap, for the love of God, SWAP. I just got out of writing a 3000 word essay and I still don’t have a horrible itching fear of regret like I used to.