Why study Geography at University?

Why did I choose Geography?

I wanted to be a midwife, or a nurse. I really, really, just wanted to help people. However, I didn’t end up taking Biology AS-levels because my teacher couldn’t speak English (she eventually got released of her duties as a result), and I dropped the course after just a few weeks. So, my career in medicine was over before it begun. The pressure to go to Uni was on from the moment I started college… well, it was on before I even got to college, really. One thing I kept in mind, though, was “choose something you enjoy.” One thing I knew I enjoyed was natural disasters, climate, weather and everything physical about our environment. I kept that in mind every time I sat through a human geography class (and every time I annoyingly got a better grade in the human stuff too)!

I chose to go to University because I had decided that I wanted to be a teacher. I chose to do Geography degree as this was my favourite subject (a very wise and strongly advisable move) and I aimed to follow this up with a PGCE.

I strongly believe that people really should not be pressured to go to higher education if they don’t want. My closest friends never did, and they are well paid and doing great. Do what you love and enjoy this and you will succeed – end of. My choice to go to University was made from a number of decisions. I wanted to study. I wanted to prove a point to myself. I was severely ill at the time and I had worked to go to University my whole life and I needed to go to prove that I could go, even if I ended up getting a third class degree. As I have said and I will say again: I chose to do Geography because it was my favourite subject. My other A-level subjects were English Language and Psychology. I felt that I would struggle in the job market with Psychology as it is extremely popular. I felt that I didn’t feel passionate about English Language enough to want to wake up and read everyday about it in detail. And, regarding why I chose Royal Holloway? Well, I didn’t know where to start with so much choice and a rubbish careers advisor, so I pulled out the brochures beginning with the same letter as my name (R) and found one as beautiful and close to home as I could… hey presto!

But, why should I choose Geography?

  • Geography graduates are considered more likely to get a job and this is widely considered as true in a number of statistical analyses. It is widely known that Geographers come out of university armed with an amazingly large skillset. They are able to do statistical analysis, while also able to think abstractly and culturally. In addition, fieldwork ensures that they can work in team environments, but report writing means they are able to work independently. Lab work often also ensures that these students are ahead of others in terms of being computer literate.
  • Another reason Geography graduates are suggested to be more employable than others is that the subject is considered as a ‘traditional’ degree and often students choose to study these at leading universities. There have been links that associate greater unemployment with more vocational degrees and younger, or previously named polytechnical, universities. Demand from employers appears to be less strong for students who have studied at such institutes.
  • If you’re not sure what you want to do with your life, perhaps Geography is your degree. It leaves doors wide open to a number of careers. It also means that you can finesse what you’re doing during your degree as even if you choose a BSc to start with (i.e. more Physical options in the 2nd and 3rd years), you can switch to a BA (i.e. more human in the 2nd and 3rd years) half way through. It is also a degree than blends nicely with modular options and you can mix and match with courses from other departments, such as biology, chemistry, physics, geology, management, business, computer science etc.
  • The courses available at institutions are often a lot of fun. What more could you want from a course that could include foreign trips with your best friends? I went to Spain and Ireland. Other fieldtrips at my University included New York and Kenya. Liverpool University runs an Undergraduate fieldtrip to California. It’s an amazing experience to see a country as you wouldn’t usually see it (do add these fieldtrip costs to your tuition fees as described in the University brochures).
  • Many Geography courses offer the ability to do sandwich years, or rather, years in industry, which is an excellent opportunity to potentially secure yourself a post-graduate job where you are comfortable with the staff and have insider knowledge on the role.

I really, really enjoyed my time at Royal Holloway, UoL. One thing to consider when applying to Universities is their status (are they are polytechnic or a redbrick). Are the modules mainly physical or human? Where are the fieldtrips and can you afford them? What are the employment statistics? What is the student life like? What is the pastoral care like? What is the staff and student interaction like?

The latter in the Geography department at RHUL is incredible and I would recommend solely on this. When you add on top World class teaching, an excellently structured course, a beautiful old building which is located near to London, Windsor, beaches and a huge green park called Virginia Water, what more could you want? If you’re not convinced, check it out here:

Ultimately do what makes you happy!

Links

The Guardian

Royal Geographical Society

What can I do with my Geography degree?

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