Know Your Options

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So, you made it another year. It’s been about 8 months since you walked back into the beer bar with your pals and chugged down that first cool crisp pint of FUN of the year, maybe first ever if you are a Fresher. However, since then, you have had your ups and downs. You’ve gone to class after class of a subject which you just have no clue why you selected, because either it’s dead boring, or has a crippling course load, and now finally the two-month slog of revision is over, exams are done, and you aren’t too sure if you can take another year of it all… well it best be time to explore your options!

So as somebody who has just transferred from physics and astrophysics, to philosophy and politics, I can tell you there is hope. You are not bound by the choice you made as a spotty faced, 18-year-old, in a panic over what to do the rest of your life. So you have to start here with this question: Do you like to live to work, or work to live?

If you aren’t too sure let me put it this way, if you live for the weekend, and can’t wait for Thursday night to creep round so you can drink the night away in HIVE, and the social and extracurricular are the focus of your University career to date, then you likely are the “working to live” type. If, however, so far you have been found in the library trying to force yourself into enjoying your course, or found yourself doing the reading of your flat mates course because “it looks fun,” you are probably the “live to work type.” The distinction can be blurry but usually after reading those descriptions you can self identify.

“Living to work” means you are interested in finding a job that fills you with passion and wonder, this requires you to be in a course you love, one that no matter how much work you have, you are ready to go the extra mile because you really do want to read that additional reading list. “Working to live” means you likely don’t care too much about the job as long as it can finance your hobbies and other interests. This means what you are looking for is a course that you have enough ability in to come out with top grades, which will supply you with enough options that you can pick the one that’ll pay to finance that holiday house in Italy.

So take a look at your course and decide, is this going to allow me to live to work, or work to live? Well if it won’t let you do what you need it to, then its time to explore swapping course. Now I would recommend speaking with your course advisor, but to do so you’ll need to know the kind of course you want to swap into. You essentially have three options if you are a pre-honors student: 1. Redo first year 2. Redo second year or 3. Continue on with 2nd year and add courses (if you are currently first year)

In option one you will pick up a whole new set of courses, and with a wide variety can keep options open for second year (Pro: You get a clean slate, Cons: costs more if you are not Scottish or an EU student).  Option two means to take the third subject you had picked up in second year and continue on with it, in order to meet the prerequisites for honours (Pro: you’ll be continuing in a subject you know and love, Con: your mates will be in honours so you won’t be able to complain about how much work you have). The final option is the one I choose a year back. Keep going with your current study plan with the intention to either stay on in it or go down option two once you’ve completed the year. You will pick a third subject you think you’ll be interested in, and then by end of semester one you should know which path you want to go down. (Pro: explore your options, Con: you may have to keep up some compulsories you hate!)

So now you know which option to pick, who do you talk to, well as before, talk to your supervisor. However, in the not impossible chance they have seemingly left the planet, here’s what you want to do. If you are changing course within the same school, and you have taken lectures in your chosen course, then email the head of the course, they’ll likely be able to tell you who to (or CC you in a) email. Explain clearly what you want to do. If it is a different school, but same college, you should do the same, but if you haven’t yet taken a course in it yet, email head of the year for the subject. (All contacts can be found on line)

The final change is the most difficult, college to college, this essentially requires you to completely reapply. This doesn’t mean dropping out, but it does mean you will need to meet a bunch of prerequisites for the college. They may need you to have particular A-levels or Highers. Essentially you will be required to meet the entry grades that can be found in the prospectus   If you don’t have the prerequisites fear not, I bring you even more options. Show them how great a candidate you are for their course, show them your dedication to working hard. For me, I hadn’t the necessary humanities subject at A-levels (all science), but I took philosophy-1 in second year, worked hard, kicked the exams butt, and wrote them an equivalent of a personal statement pleading my case, I referenced voluntary work, extra curricular activities, basically everything you bragged about in your first personal statement. I sent this all to the head of the college’s admissions.

If all this fails, you have two choices, continue on and just get a degree then re-evaluate, or decide to leave it there, and get the grades you need to do what you want, and there is no shame at all in pursuing your own path!

At the end of the day you should be studying at Glasgow for nobody else but yourself. Not your parents, not your teachers, but you. So you should do something that will make you happy now, and keep you happy in the years to come!

Good luck!

Owain Campton

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