It is your degree
When I was applying for my BSc in psychology, I faced many dilemmas. Foremost, I was confused about where I should apply and what to write for my personal statement. Additionally, I had to decide whether I applied for Psychology or not. The latter dilemma caused me the most distress as there were very high stakes. See, my parents were dead-set on me becoming a medical doctor. A psychology graduate without career prospects – as many people described it – was not what they wanted from me. Applying for psychology at the time meant disappointing my parents who had sacrificed so much to come to the UK to give me and my siblings as many opportunities as possible.
I wanted to be a good daughter to my parents. I considered applying for medicine. I spend two weeks getting work experience at a GP and paediatrics ward. I paid for and sat my UKCAT medicine test (and did well, despite deliberately trying to sabotage it). I started my personal statement and did plenty of reading and research in case of an interview. However, I stopped short at applying. I could not go through with it. There were so many reasons; medicine was not for me. The idea of spending many years studying to end up in a career that I did not want to be in was scary.
I applied for Psychology outside of London (where I lived at the time) and did not tell my parents. The plan was to let them continue to think that I had applied for medicine in London – I technically was not lying as they were making assumptions. For good measure, I applied for Oxford as well. I figured that they wanted me to go into medicine to tell people that they had a doctor as their daughter, but if I were to get into Oxford, they would still have bragging rights.
I eventually told my parents that I applied for Psychology – a couple days before the medicine deadline so that there was very little that could be done. They were really annoyed at me. It was a very difficult time for me. Alongside my parents, my teachers at college, and many of my friends did not understand why I was not applying for medicine. Overall, it felt like no one supported my decision. A decision that I was very hesitant about anyway.
However, I persevered. I stuck with my decision.
I would love to say that my parents accepted my decision straight away, but it took them a while too. I tried to prove that I was doing a worthwhile degree. With my dad who did not think psychology was a science, I always made sure to emphasise the biology and statistics. For my mum who was adamant that I would not get a proper job, I always tried to reassure her by telling her about all the work experience and volunteer I was doing as well as my degree.
Now, three years on, from hearing stories of people dropping out of degrees that they did not enjoy, my parents now understand that medicine was not my calling.
I am in the third year of my psychology degree and I love it. I have so much fun. I am the kid who turns up to everything; I sit in the front row of my lectures, asking and answering questions. Sometimes I think what if I ended up applying for medicine, and getting into medicine? What if I ended up hating my degree? The idea seems horrible and yet there are so many people to a degree that they do not like. I understand that there are many reasons why people end up doing degrees that they hate. But, at the end of the day, the degree you are studying is your degree. You should do whatever degree you want regardless.