‘Should have done Medicine’…Or Should I?

Hugh Coates

I write this with a tear in my eye as Mike Skinner’s lachrymose song about heartbreak and rejection trundles along in the background. Don’t be mistaken, my current melancholy has not been caused by a female, but by a more pressing issue, that of my career.

I am more than half way through a BA in History. I have thoroughly enjoyed the degree thus far (I haven’t started the dissertation yet…). Delving into the debauchery of Henry VIII was both enlightening and well, saddening, what good times they were…if you were king. Equally pleasurable were the occasional skirmishes with sanctimonious pacifists who had somehow found themselves in a module entirely dedicated to war.

What I am trying to say is that you will struggle to find a more stimulating degree. Passion for a subject, for myself and others like me, has resulted in many taking up a humanities degree without even considering how this will fit into their career. While this is admirable, when you consider that paying £27K+ is fairly large financial burden to place on anyone, let alone a 21 year old, for pursuing an ‘interest’, it is not enough to cling to. Eventually, we must all board the train of life and find the carriage for us, whatever career that may be (unless you are a benefits cheating scum-bag ARRRRRRGHHHHH!)

It is now July, a fair amount of time before I throw my mortarboard to the sky. It is at this time where I face that common question, ‘what do I do now?’ I petulantly whine to anyone that will listen, usually whichever unfortunate parent is around, about how I should have chosen a degree with a more defined career path. ‘Why didn’t I do medicine!” I cry (the fact that I was/am academically incapable to enroll in such a course has been politely ignored by myself and my family so far). Why hadn’t I thought about this when I was applying through the torturous UCAS process instead of trying to procure a fake ID? I curse myself for choosing a humanities degree, I brought this upon myself.

Ignoring my behavior on this matter, there is actually a lot out there for us humanities students – not that we knew this when we submitted that final personal statement about how much we adore history a few years back.

Many of the top graduate schemes are not degree specific at all. It has even been suggested that to practice law, a ‘proper’ career, it is actually preferable to have a grounding in another academic field, like history, before converting. I could be here all day saying we are all going to be alright etc. God knows the careers advisers at university have tried.

The unreasonable 20-year-old of a few months ago is a victim of his own decision to choose a degree that allowed him to pursue an interest while, unknowingly, preparing him for the workplace.

Humanities students must not complain about a lack of clarity in their career path, after all, they chose their degree. And while I am saying we mustn’t feel sorry for ourselves, we must also must relish the rich choice available to us.