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How to choose what to study at university – my story!

Hello, my name is Jess and I am studying Social Science at the University of Brighton.

Deciding what to study and choosing a degree at university can often feel overwhelming for many, which is completely normal and understandable. There are many pathways that prospective students will follow. For example, I knew from a very young age that I wanted a career which would help individuals in need and from disadvantaged backgrounds, due to my own personal experiences growing up.

Deciding on a course

At college, I was looking at possible career avenues and found that social work was exactly where I wanted to be. I also had a few family friends who were social workers, which inspired me further. A social work degree is extremely popular and, as a result, there are only a limited number of spaces available for the course. I managed to secure a BA(Hons) Social Work interview, which was an achievement, especially for my age at the time. However, I was not accepted after the interview.

Researching alternative career paths

I was very upset, disappointed, and unsure what to do next. I decided to speak to the careers advisor at my college, who helped me investigate other options available and that was when I discovered the BA(Hons) Social Science degree. It was perfect for me. The course structure for Social Science consists of core modules including the foundations of sociological theory, linking social policy theory from practice and research, and focusing on debates across the social sciences. Then you can choose option modules, which allow you to specialise in areas that reflect your personal interests and aspirations, such as criminology, social policy, research, psychology and sociology. This meant I was able to tailor my degree to exactly what I enjoyed learning about, which was important to me.

A mix of practical and research work

My course also has the opportunity to take part in the Community Engagement module, which allows you to gain voluntary experience in your second year. The module’s aim is to implement the theory you learn into a practical setting. In my case, I chose St Wilfrid’s Hospice, which has been an incredibly rewarding and at times challenging experience, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

You can do it!

I know that sometimes it can be cheesy when people say everything happens for a reason. However, it is true looking back on my journey. Something I think is important about the Social Science degree is that there are so many pathways and avenues you can go down and use throughout your life. My goal and dream of being a social worker is still very much here and I know I will get there eventually, but sometimes it is not how you originally planned and that is more than okay. It is your life to do whatever you wish and your journey has already started!

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Jessica Avery • 18th October 2021


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