Could/should I switch from graphic design to science?
July 4, 2009 11:59 AM   Subscribe

I suffered from depression and social anxiety throughout my mid to late teens so I did poorly in my A-levels which I picked based more on how easy I thought they'd be than how much they interested me. I managed to get into a decent Art School thanks to my graphics portfolio but I was miserable there. I transferred to a different school and got treatment for depression and was much happier. I just got my results for the first year though and they were terrible - I just barely passed. I'm starting to think I'm not suited to art school. I feel like I missed my chance to find a subject that really interests me and now I'm stuck on a career path which I'm not suited for. I keep fantasizing about going into science - I've always been interested in it and both of my brothers have science degrees - but I'd have to start from scratch and I have no idea if I'd be any good at it. Is this just a dumb pipe dream or is it something I should look into?
posted by Andy Harwood to Education (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
go for it: one of my daughters received a BA in Graphic Arts and Design, worked a couple of years in the field, became bored with the computer aspect of the job, applied for pharmacy school ( after hitting the science books seriously to get a good score in the admission test).

She is happy and glad of the career change.
posted by francesca too at 12:20 PM on July 4, 2009

What's the worst thing that could happen if you change?

You'd flunk out and be miserable. Which is what you have now, right?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:20 PM on July 4, 2009

Find the courage to ask questions, as you are, and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstanding and sadness. Your brothers have experience in Science!—avail yourself of their knowledge and advice. Speak with your art teachers and ask for an honest evaluation of whether you have a future.

Whatever you choose, keep in mind this simple agreement with yourself—always do your best. It is ultimately a guide to happiness and fulfillment. If you know deep down inside that you have made your best effort at whatever you do, then criticism will run off you like water off a duck. People will take notice that you are trying, that you are a hard worker, that you are a go getter.

What are the images others have projected onto you? Perhaps you are too wrapped up in expectations. When you think to yourself, "I am smart, I am stupid, I am beautiful, I am ugly, I am not capable, I am the greatest" these images are only concepts. They are what has been ingrained in you throughout your personal development. You perceive all the distorted images others create for you, and you continue to ask for the projections to support what you already believe.

Your whole point of view of your own reality is based on what you believe you are, but again, that is just a concept. It is knowledge, but knowledge does not mean it is the truth. Knowledge only means it is what you know. So to change your own knowledge of yourself, always do your best. Speak and act with integrity. Try your best not to take things personally, and don't make assumptions. Continue to ask the pertinent questions and you will eventually find your answers.
posted by netbros at 12:27 PM on July 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I run a engineering course in a decent UK university, we have students with an arts background who do well, it is quite possible you could get in to a course that interests you, find one you like the look of then get in touch with the course director/director of studies/whatever they call it at that institution and discuss whether they would take someone with less traditional entry qualifications. They may set some targets, I for example would probably want you to get some kind of maths qualification. Much will also depend on how your A level results relate to their minimum ask for entry.

Another option would be to take an access course, which would give you a one year base of science and could get you into a science or engineering degree at a number of institutions. Another option is a foundation course, which takes 2 years but could allow you entry into the second year of a degree course. Obviously its a good idea to talk to the people who run the degree course you want before you sign up for either the access or foundation degree. See below for complications.

Practical issues:
(1)The English funding body wants to limit student numbers this year so a lot of universities will have stopped accepting applicants to start in Oct 2009 and the earliest you would be able to get in would be Oct 2010, this would at least give you time to get any extra qualifacations you need to be accepted. If you apply for entry for 2010 my advice would be to get your UCAS form in before xmas.

(2)If you have already used up 2 years of funding for higher education you will only be able to get your LEA or equivalent to pay for another 2 years. You would likely have to pay fees for a third (or more) additional years yourself, on top of the standard student fees (standard fee is £3290 this year, additional costs would more than double this for a year).
posted by biffa at 2:12 PM on July 4, 2009

Best answer: Is it possible that either depression or social anxiety are affecting your outlook at the moment. Did you enjoy art school even though you just barely passed? Are you resilient enough to pursue a career in the field - which is not an easy one in which to establish a well-paying career?

What attracts you about science? A lot of jobs in that field pay poorly and involve incredibly mundane, tedious work even if you have spectacular grades and advanced degrees. Do you have a strong maths/science background from high school - you may not be able to gain admission to a basic science degree without that as many require a presumed level of competence in maths, physics, chemistry, etc.

Do you really need to look at degrees right now or might you be better to explore new fields through other learning pathways? Depending on how you intend to use your eventual qualification, a degree might not even be the best option for you. Even if it is, you may still benefit both financially and vocationally by doing the foundation study outside of the university environment.

There is a point at which a history of incomplete study will start to count against you - I'm not saying it's fair, but it is the reality, and it's something you might want to consider when setting your goals.
posted by Lolie at 2:37 PM on July 4, 2009

I took a bunch of science classes as prereqs for nursing school recently. My background had been in music and photography and other non-sciencey things. I really, really enjoyed the classes (more than I'm enjoying nursing school but that's another story). I had no problem understanding them.

If anything, I think opening that side of my brain up has reflected back positively on my artistic side. It's shown me that I can be organized and work within structure.

Anyway, I think you should go for it.
posted by sully75 at 4:34 PM on July 4, 2009

How long is it in the UK before your grades during your final year of high school become pretty much irrelevant for the purpose of university admission? Would you be competing against current school leavers or IB candidates for a place in a different course?
posted by Lolie at 5:49 PM on July 4, 2009

To answer Lolie's question, you do quite rapidly become classed as a mature student, I think its after 21 but it may be a little later. At this point there is increasingly less focus on your A level results, however, you will need to have something to demonstrate your interest, rather than some old A level results and no relevant experience whatsoever. The easiest way to do it is through alternative qualifications, though practical work experience might be credited. Competition is probably not the big deal, each university course will have a posted minimum qualification, either you will have the posted grades or equivalent or you won't. Some courses will have a bit more slack than others as regards taking applicants below the posted minimum.

But my professional advice would be, if you find a course you like the look of and have roughly the right A level points but not in what you think are the right areas then talk to the course director, they will be able to tell you whether there is a realisitic opportunity or not and what might make the difference.
posted by biffa at 11:20 AM on July 5, 2009

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