Choosing the right course – and why I chose Linguistics
It seems a long time ago that I applied to university – it was, after all, pretty much a different world, even though it was only 18 months ago. Now, as a first-year undergraduate during the pandemic, I’m more than aware that we, as a group, have been hitting the headlines. Many of these stories probably aren’t the most comforting to the Year 13 students trying to work out where to go, and what to study, in 2021.
For this reason, I’d like to share some advice about how to choose a university course – and why Linguistics is a great option.
The thing is, it’s easy to get wrapped up in personal statements, teacher recommendations, grades and so on. Of course, these things are incredibly important, and there’s a wealth of advice on them. But when you’re in the process of applying and studying A-Levels too, it can be easy to lose sight of what you actually want to get out of university. If I could give one piece of advice above all else, it would be:
Make sure that you’re applying for a course that you are genuinely passionate about studying.
For many years, I’d intended on reading Literature at university, and I built all my plans around this. After stumbling across Linguistics in Year 12 – and enjoying it more than anything else – it took time and endless pro/con lists to part with my old, familiar plans, and begin to build new Linguistics-shaped ones. But I haven’t looked back since.
If you’re not entirely certain about the course you’d like to study, then my advice would be to talk to your teachers, talk to other students, talk to your family about the subjects you’re really interested in. And remember it’s okay if you’re not certain about your future plans, particularly in a year like this.
Look on university websites, even at courses you hadn’t thought of applying for, just to make sure that you know what your options are. Ask questions, compare courses, and take the time to work out what course, and what university, would be best for you. I found that talking to staff and students gave me a much better impression as to whether I’d fit into the culture of the university – and this works virtually too. In fact, the welcoming demeanour of staff and students at Warwick on the Offer Holder day is one of the main reasons I decided to put Warwick as my first choice.
Of course, since applying to university last year, circumstances have changed unimaginably. However, in terms of Linguistics, I think that the reasons to study the subject are even stronger in light of 2020.
Firstly, the content is interesting and relevant. We study real world data – and problems we are individually interested in – by analysing language. I find that studying language gives me a much better grasp on the world, and in a year as slippery and changeable as 2020, having a way to read the meaning behind headlines and briefings is incredibly important.
Secondly, it’s a fascinating time to be studying language. Language is changing rapidly, as we form new, Covid-made words, like ‘quarantinis’ and ‘Coronacations’. Coronavirus can’t stop language.
Finally, Linguistics at Warwick is a community. The small groups and high levels of interaction in seminars has really helped us to stay connected, meet new people, and get the best out of the current situation.
We don’t know what next year, or even next week, has in store. If you are trying to decide on a university and course at the moment, then make sure you talk to the staff and students already there to get a real feel for it. And maybe check out the Linguistics Department, to see if it inspires you the way it has me.