Just when you thought you had finally gotten rid of me I am back! I am sitting at this current moment surrounded by work that I should be doing but rather have decided not to. I have, for the purpose of the next half an hour, decided that the next wave of freshers are of greater importance than a one-thousand-word essay that is due in on Friday.
Firstly, let’s tackle that gloomy, ever present cloud that is UCAS. Don’t worry if you hate it and are failing miserably to get your head around their bizarre systems, you are in the same boat as almost everyone who has ever used UCAS. It’s a traumatic experience to say the least. I suggest finding a good therapist to help deal with the whole stress of using it. Or if you are a cheap-skate like myself, just be prepared for the most perplexing experience of your school career. The best advice I can give you is to follow what all the UCAS ‘experts’ have been telling you: write your personal statement as soon as physically possible. Your personal statement will need revised, shortened, rewritten, burnt. Simply make sure you have time to deal with any issues that may arise with regard to it. Being prepared is your friend, not your enemy.
Right, now that that is out of the way, on to the topic of university. If you are one of those people who are on the fence about whether it is worth going to university or not, I can assure you it most definitely is worth every second. You may think taking a degree in humanities is an utterly pointless exercise – I will personally debate such views until the ends of time. I am doing possibly the most pointless sounding degree on the planet and yet it encompasses so many useful skills and practises that apparently employers love. I came into university not knowing entirely was I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted my degree to take me but simply being here and studying has shown me that I would really like to get into academia (a common area for we religious studies students to end up). Fancy doing a degree in the History of Fine Art? Do it! At the end of the day you will have a BA or MA if you come to Edinburgh and four amazing years to look back on. However, word of advice from the now enlightened. Those of you thinking of doing English, think long and hard over whether being stuck reading 24/7 is really what you want to do. They decided to throw us in at the deep end with novels. That means you read, without failure, a novel a week for your tutorials on top of relevant criticism and the readings for your other subjects. It is rather nightmarish but very insightful and sometimes fun.
Religious studies and, in general, many other humanities subjects appear to have a stigma with regard to them in comparison to subjects like biology and engineering. I can tell you that never have I had to think more than I have done in religious studies. I often walk out of lectures questioning my entire existence and whether anything I was taught at school actually prepared me for it. University is far less rigid and points are open to argument and criticism. Everything is possible as long as you know how to argue it. It’s incredible work and immensely rewarding. Although I never have to leave my halls before 9:30 in the morning, I still appear to do more work than my flatmate who is studying biological science. Humanities are real degrees and are also really quite hard work.
So, my concluding advise for this most likely thoroughly useless late night spiel is that no matter what you choose to do, make sure it will be something you are interested in and will be able to place your heart, soul and most likely permanently hung over mind into. Even if you get here, start your degree and notice that taking an extra module in philosophy of science was a really bad idea (been there, done that and swapped that horrific subject for Bible in Literature) then it is really easy to change within the first two weeks. Staff are understanding and are there to help you get the most out of your time at university. If you decided that you should never have picked art as your main degree subject because you drew a really good looking flower once in S4, you can most likely change it without hassle. So don’t fret, stay calm and try and enjoy your free time while you have it. When they say ‘rest for a second and end up two months behind’ they mean it.