So you’re doing an Arts degree? Don’t panic. Don’t freak out. You’re actually one of the lucky ones. Despite all the slagging this may get, ‘ah they’re just doing Arts’ or ‘be grand, have one more shot, sure you’re only doing Arts’ I firmly believe this is one of the best options for a student to do if they are not sure what they want to study. This theory applies to students who are not certain what course they might be interested in or if they have no idea at all what they want to do.
I solemnly wish it was made the norm that every person entering university should do a more general, arts based degree in their first year. If this was mandatory, it would allow students to explore the subjects they had their eye on when they filled out the dreaded CAO form and to also let them test out other subjects they may never have even considered before. I submit this would lower the failure rates in subjects and also the drop out rates in second and third year as students would have chosen the subjects which they actually enjoy and find that they can do well in. Doing an Arts degree enhances your versatility and broadens your knowledge on a lot more areas in comparison to a course that only focuses on the one subject. It also illustrates to an employer how liberal and open you are to learning and gaining insight into different topics, and not just tied to the one, which is what every successful business needs in an ever developing market.
Let’s face it, that lad in secondary school who also wanted to study dentistry may find he does not actually enjoy studying it or that nerdy girl who always had her mind set on studying criminology may find it is not what she had expected.
Unfortunately, we all know of someone who has deferred their academic year to change course or has dropped out of college altogether as ultimately, they did not enjoy their course. To be frank, what 17/18 year-old who is stressed to the nines with studying is supposed to know what they want to study for the next 3 to 4 years. How are they meant to know if they are interested in nursing if their parents are not one or if they have never been exposed to a day-in-the-life of one. The very same goes for a lot of subjects and careers.
How is one meant to know they will enjoy studying one subject if they have never sat in the lectures before and actually studied it?
Personally, I encountered this question when I sat in my first law lecture and quickly realised that this was something I was interested in. Coming from a girl who had filled her whole CAO spaces up with French and Business courses and had in her head that this was what she wanted – I was soon proved wrong.
In first year, I studied French, Business and Law. I discovered French, a language I had devoted so many years of studying to and even so far as living with a French host family and attending a language school in Nice for two consecutive summers, was proving to be quite difficult in terms of the content in exams. Comparing all three subjects on what I was enjoying and learning the most from, surprisingly it was law. A subject I had never even considered before. Realistically, I had never been exposed to it so how was 18 year-old me supposed to know I would enjoy or be good at? My love for law became apparent when I looked at how I acted in lectures compared to the other two – the two I had convinced myself so well in 6th year that I wanted to do. As soon as I entered a law lecture I would be hooked and intrigued by every word the lecturer said and I would leave the lecture knowing something new and would retain this information for much longer in comparison to my other two subjects.
If I had never done an Arts degree in first year, I would never have had the opportunity to discover law and I most definitely would not be writing this article from the Law department at the University of Trento in Italy, as I am currently spending a year here on my Erasmus studying all kinds of different law such as Asian law and Energy law.
All in all, if you are doing an Arts degree, stick with it. Try out as many subjects as possible in the first few weeks, just sit down in the lectures and take notes as if you are already taking that class. If you find a subject that you immensely enjoy, dependent on the subject you may be able to transfer into that subject completely in your second year if you attain the necessary grades. A few examples of these courses are pure psychology / law (LLB) / law and business (BCL) / law and arts.
If you are struggling to find a subject that grabs your attention, stay patient. Keep sitting in on other classes, you will find something that will spark your interest, it just may take you some time to adjust to the university way of teaching and learning.
The ball is in your court.