I just graduated from a degree in Classical studies and Egyptology, but am now
looking to go into the publishing industry. I picked a degree in history instead of the
one in media I really wanted, because I was pushed in that direction.
Dear younger Charlotte,
A-Levels are not everything. It is easy to become wrapped up in education and results, when they are all you have ever known, and all your school and family tell you to focus on. Education comes in many forms and you do not have to succeed the first time. Life is not a straight line, and all forms of education are valid. It is classist to assume that getting a university degree straight out of school is the only way forward.
You will pick a degree, because so few other options are glamourised and promoted as much. You will love your degree, it was three years of joy, learning and exploring who you are. There is nothing wrong with going to university, it is the right path for many. You will wish you had considered other options, just because you like to overthink. In your time at university you will also deal with downfalls you were not warned of: mental health issues, the extreme pressure of perfect grades and realising that although your degree is fun, you picked the wrong one. You realise that everyone has their path in life, and going to university is not the only option you once thought it was at 17 – so don’t judge anyone who decides not to go!
When deciding what to do with your future, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, everything will come with time – even though you push yourself to be perfect at everything. In all honesty, most 17-18 year olds have no idea what they want to do with their life, and that is ok.
“Pick something you are passionate about if you don’t know, because in all likelihood, you may change your mind.”
Young people are under so much pressure to pick a job sector and told they will stay with it, but that is simply not true. If you do not love your career, you can change it; there are courses and jobs with built in training, you have every right to change your mind. It is easy to say this with hindsight, but everything truly does come with time. Who you are at 18 will not be the same in a few months or years.
Do not let other people push you towards a certain career or degree either. At the end of the day, you are the one who has to live your life, not your parents or friends. Your parents might want you to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer, but they are not the ones who have to go to university or live your life. Follow what makes you happy, if you love helping people and dream of being a doctor, damn well do it. If you love snails and want to spend your life studying them, go study entomology!
Explore all your options before you commit to anything, even if the path you originally thought of is the one you eventually choose, it is great to have considered all your options. If you consider law, research apprenticeships; if you consider media, research entry level jobs. Research every avenue of the career you are thinking of, if you have any idea of one. You never know what you will find. There is no one way or avenue into a career – unless you decide all of a sudden you want to be a doctor, that definitely needs training! Prospects is a great website for career options; take all of the quizzes to explore your options; ask your careers advisor if they have any suggestions. If you do do a degree, explore volunteering and jobs at the same time if you can, employers love real life experience.
In summary Charlotte, it is ok to not know who you want to be, that is a life long journey. Some people know who they are, but you are not one of them yet. Once you leave school, you will begin to find out. As for deciding what you want to do, it is ok to change your mind or not know. There are many ways to find or enter a career and it is not the end of the world if you don’t like or want to do a degree. Also, love yourself while you’re at it, you need to love yourself before you can have any confidence in yourself.
All my love and wisdom,