I don't know what to do with my life!; Stamping out those worries.

9:45 PM

If you're not from the UK you probably won't be aware of how our education system works, so I will explain it in the simplest way I can:

  • Primary School (age 4 to 11): SATS is the exams in the final year
  • High School/Secondary School (age 11 to 16): GCSE's is the qualification you receive in the final year, you have to chose some of the subjects that you do but a lot are mandatory such as maths, english, science.
  • College (age 16 to 18): A-level (short for Advanced level) is the qualification you receive at this stage. The first year is called an AS level and if you take the subject into a second year then you gain the full A-Level. You generally chose four subjects at this point.
  • University Undergraduate (Generally age 18 to 21 but there are lots of mature students and people who take a year ot two out before doing their degree): This is where you gain a degree. Depending on what subject, most people either get BA (Bachelor of arts) or BSc (Bachelor of Science) after their name. 
  • Following from these you can go onto a postgraduate degree which is a masters and then a PhD or a doctorate. A PhD/Doctorate is the highest level of education.

I have a younger cousin who is 16 and about to venture into college. When she had to pick what GCSE subjects she had to do, she was worried about her future because she didn't want to pick the wrong ones. And now she is also worried about what A-level subjects to do because she "has no idea what she wants to do" career wise.

I think this mistake is made so early on, schools make out like you HAVE to know what you want to do, you have to have a clear path when that just isn't reality. For some people, they may have easily decided what they want to do. They may have always wanted to be a doctor or always wanted to do game design, so then it's easy... You pick the subjects aimed towards this goal. But what if you have no idea what you want to do? I wanted to write this blog post to help people feel at ease; whether you are doing GCSEs, A-Levels or are on your undergraduate degree.

Don't worry. It's okay not to know.
One of the biggest things that younger people worry about is not knowing what they effectively "want to do with their lives". It is put into our heads from a young age that we MUST know what we want to do as a career from as young as 14, which is a difficult ask! It also doesn't give someone much time to find out what subjects they are interested in. I didn't have a chance to try Psychology until I was at college level and even then, I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do I just knew the area I wanted to go into. It is okay not to know what you want to do, you may never know and just try a lot of different things until you find what you love. But it is okay and don't let anyone scare you into thinking otherwise.

A lot of Universities only ask for certain grades/points, not specific subjects.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. If you want to go into something like medicine then they will ask for specific subjects and grades. But a lot of the time universities will either ask for grades e.g. you must get 3 A's in your subjects. Or they will ask for what is known as UCAS points. Each grade is worth a certain amount of points, grades of a full A level is worth more than an AS level, but it does mean that you can put the grades of your AS levels towards this. And if you don't get the grades you need there is also what is called "clearing" where universities will have some spaces left on some courses that you may be able to get onto. So don't worry too much about the specific subjects, just try to pick subjects you enjoy or are good at. My A Levels were; AS Maths, AS Extended Project and A levels in History, Graphics and Psychology. A completely random mix, but still got me to where I needed to be.


There is never just "one way" to get to where you want to be.
For some reason, schools tend to make out like there is only one certain path to go down to get to where you want to be and if you don't go down that path then you can't do the career you want. This is not always the case. There are plenty of people who don't realise what they want to do until later in life. There are options called "conversion" courses which can help you get to where you want to be. Yes, it may be easier to go down a straight path but don't worry if you end up changing your mind or having to go a different route.


You can always change subjects if it's not for you. "Taster days" are also a good way to find out.
Sometimes, its hard to tell if you are even going to enjoy a subject, especially if it's something you are going to do for the first time. Often, colleges will give you a certain amount of time that you can change by. I sort of did this in my final year of university when we had to pick specific modules in Psychology. I had originally picked "Positive Psychology" and quickly realised it just wasn't for me so I changed to "Substance Use" and I enjoyed that a hell of a lot more. A lot of colleges and universities tend to give "taster" days or sessions and if you are offered this opportunity I would definitely go for it to save any messing around in the future.

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To all you young people out there, I hope this post has helped you to feel at ease about not knowing what it is that you want to do. Good luck in your future endeavours! 

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2 comments

  1. BECKSTER! I've missed you!

    Even back when I was at school, it was pretty much the same way. In years 11 and 12, which is still classed as high school, we choose all our own classes apart from English and basic maths which was a requirement. But even before your final exams, you were forced to apply to universities and not knowing how well or badly your exams were, sometimes you wouldn't be offered a place at all. But it's all based on snap decisions and here it's not so flexible unfortunately. With the world's economy and the lack of employment opportunities today, I feel for young people trying to find their feet. Brilliant advice, I wish someone had of expressed those very sentiments to me at that age, just knowing that you have options can be a massive relief can't it <3

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    1. I've missed you too! Been so busy with my PhD and getting ready to move out, i'm becoming an adult! But I really want to work hard on my blog, I'd love to get more readers and interact more.

      Thank you! I definitely think it gets harder for young people and they are constantly pressure to know what they want to do and its just not the case at all, I didn't know what I wanted to do for certain until about a year ago!

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