Advice on choosing your degree from the Careers Service

Application deadlines for universities are fast approaching. If you’re struggling to choose your higher education course, Joanne McKinney (PICTURED) , Careers Manager for Coleraine, Limavady and Ballymoney in the Department for Employment and Learning’s Careers Service offers some helpful tips.

UCAS is the organisation responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK.

There are three application deadlines for courses through UCAS. Completed applications, including a reference, should be sent by the following dates:

15 October for dentistry, medicine, veterinary science and veterinary medicine and for all courses at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge;

15 January for all other courses except those above and art and design courses with a 24 March deadline; and

24 March for art and design courses except those listed with a 15 January deadline.

It is important to check the deadline for your chosen course(s). Further information on applying via UCAS can be found by going to the Education and Training section of www.nidirect.gov.uk/careers or www.ucas.com

Take into account current and future growth areas as well as those in decline. Speaking to a careers adviser allows you to get impartial and up to date advice on career paths.

Choosing your degree is only one step towards your career. Increasingly employers are asking for those ‘softer’ or ‘key’ skills, in addition to academic qualifications. These can be developed throughout your course or outside your studies. Adding value to your degree with work experience is essential in these economic times. If your chosen course does not have a placement, find opportunities elsewhere. Joining clubs, teams or societies or voluntary work can also help develop these skills.

There are a range of higher education courses, not just degrees. It is worth familiarising yourself with alternative qualifications as they may suit you better. They can include Foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas or Apprenticeships. Gap years can also allow you to develop skills that employers want if you use your time wisely.

For more information and guidance on choosing your next step, you can find contact details for your local careers adviser on www.nidirect.gov.uk/careers or by ringing 0300 200 7820.