Jess’ story

24 years old, Carlisle

Where did you grow up?


What did you study in higher education?

English Literature at Lancaster University.

Why did you decide on this subject?

I didn’t always know what I wanted to do in school; I had a lot of interests. My family always encouraged me to pursue what I enjoy and to make GCSE choices and so on based on this – but that is a difficult rule to follow when you enjoy a lot of subjects!   

I enjoyed school and had a good group of friends so I stayed onto sixth form, and after visiting my brother at university I was interested in going myself – however, at the time I believed I could only go to university if I had a clear and defined career path in mind, otherwise it would be a waste of time. After looking into subjects which I believed had defined career routes, I realised that I didn’t have a genuine interest in them. So I started attending open days looking into the subject I enjoyed most in and outside of school. It was only by experiencing English Literature courses through Open Days and research that I realised this was a subject I would enjoy at university level. So I chose my course based on this; if I was going to study something for three years, I wanted it to be something I would genuinely enjoy, otherwise I would really feel I had wasted my time.  

What was the best thing about your studying with your university, and/or the best thing about your course?

University lived up to my expectations by being unexpected! Whilst I gained a lot of the things you might hear students often talk about – life skills, lifelong friends, independence and the ability to make a meal out of anything left in your cupboard – I also gained the opportunity to explore my favourite subject in new and unexpected ways, whilst tailoring it to something that could take me on a career route I was genuinely passionate about. In my final year dissertation, I was able to write about film and social media adaptations of classic novels. I always had an interest in social media and online video content, but I never imagined I’d be able to work it into my degree!

What advice would you give to someone from your area?

For me, because I was unsure about what to do, I would say have a good think about what you’re passionate about. Identify a subject or a hobby that you enjoy and challenge yourself by asking, Why do you enjoy it? What do you enjoy about it?. By doing this we can begin to grasp what we’re really passionate about, and I believe if we follow this, it will lead us down some routes that we maybe didn’t expect!