Sophie’s Story

21 years old, Whitehaven

Where did you grow up?

Whitehaven.

Where and what did you study at Higher Education?

(BSc) Hons in Physical Geography at Edge Hill University in Lancashire.

Why did you decide to study this subject?

Geography was the first subject in school I found genuinely interesting. I enjoyed lots of subjects at school, such as Art and French, but I realised I mostly enjoyed them because they were easy to me; but in year 11 something clicked and I found that geography challenged me in ways other subjects couldn’t. This was probably helped by the fact that I had one of the most enthusiastic and positive teachers; and she’s someone I’m still in touch with today.

What support did you get?

My mam was my biggest supporter and knew all the right things to say (even if at the time I didn’t want to hear them). She told me that whether or not the subject I chose was vocational or non-vocational, I had to enjoy that subject as I would be studying it for the next three years. She helped me research open days and think up pros and cons for each university I considered, and was very supportive of my final decision. My friends were also very supportive, as although some of us were going to university, some of us were doing apprenticeships and some of us were going straight into employment, we all supported each other’s decisions and encouraged one another.

Has your career or education taken any unexpected turns?

I always knew I wanted to go to university, as I enjoyed studying and wasn’t sure what job I wanted just yet. This way I’d have three years to think about it. My first issue was that although I knew what I wanted to study, I wasn’t sure what subject I wanted to do as I feared geography wasn’t vocational enough and could limit my future options. In the end I wrote four personal statements; one for policing, one for speech and language therapy, one for teaching, and one for geography. Ultimately I decided on geography with the support of my teachers and my mam. Then I had the issue of deciding where to study. I knew I wanted to stay relatively north, but not Cumbria, and I knew I wanted access to a big city, but didn’t want to live in a city. It was my mam who first suggested the idea of a campus university, from here I found Edge Hill University. This had the benefit of being 30 minutes from Liverpool, so I could enjoy the perks of city life, but it was in a chilled and calm location with everything essential close by on campus; from a doctors, restaurants, gym and the library!

What advice would you give someone from your area?

Don’t be afraid to take your time. There’s no rush (although it may seem like everything is happening at once), if you want to take a gap year or work for a year to think about your options that’s OK! And I would say to really think hard about what you want to study and what you enjoy. I know quite a few people who changed courses after one year because they found their subject too hard, too easy, or just not what they expected. Do your research and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

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