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(UK) Should I do my Honours year? (and other university stuff)

Dr SnofeldDr Snofeld Registered User regular
edited February 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
In this topic I am looking for input from UK-based University graduates who completed an Honours year, preferably in a science.

I'm currently not certain whether I want to do an Honours year at my university, or just graduate with an Ordinary after third year. I'm only in second year so there's no rush to decide. My course is Zoology, and once I graduate I plan to take a postgraduate course in teaching (high school, Biology w/ Science). I could get into a course with an Ordinary degree, so that's not a problem. The question is what would I get out of Honours year?

One problem is that I get two conflicting sets of advice on this. One one side is Dr Jones, my advisor of studies, experienced lecturer and co-author of textbooks and stuff (Practical Skills in Biology and Practical Skills in Biomedical Sciences, btw, highly recommended for Life Sciences students). On the other side, my dad, a high school English teacher who's been through a similar path I plan to take.

There's nothing wrong with an Ordinary, it'll just mean you'll start at a lower paygrade, says Dr Jones.
You'll stand a much better chance of getting in the course or getting a job with Honours, says Dad.

It'd be fine to take a gap year before the postgrad, says Dr Jones.
You should take a gap year after your postgrad and probational teaching year if at all, says Dad.

Also I don't know what Honours year is actually like. Part of the reason for being tempted to finish early is to get out of the same routine I've been in for years and years of study, exam, study. But I don't know if Honours is like that, all I know is that there's a dissertation (sp?).

I don't wanna stay for the fun of it either, because I don't really find university life fun. Which is not to say that I don't find it satisfying. It's not the academic side I'm not keen on, it's the social side. I still live at home, I don't drink, I don't go to events, I get scared and uneasy in crowds so I can't really go to bars or clubs. I haven't made a single friend the whole time I've been at uni. I have friends, don't get me wrong, but they're friends from high school or elsewhere. There's a few people I speak to in lectures and labs but that's all it is, speaking in class, never out of it.

But if Honours is something different, something interesting, then I would want to do it.

Oh, I'll say that if I don't hear any truely convincing reasons not to do Honours, I'll likely do it anyway. But I would really like to know what it's like.

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Dr Snofeld on

Posts

  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I'd do it. What's the rush after all?

    I guess you're in Scotland or something? I don't even think I have an option of not doing an honours degree where I am.

    And join some societies, it's half the fun of going to university! You don't have to go clubbing or anything - there are loads of people who don't like that sort of thing either.

    corcorigan on
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  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Basically, an Ordinary Degree is kinda synonymous with failure. A lot of people who get Ordinary degrees fuck up their final year, or drop out early due to personal etc reasons. Not having an Honours degree will close the door to most decent Postgraduate degrees. If you're interested in getting a some postgrad qualification, you really ought to get an honours degree as you want to have as many choices as possible when it comes to choosing a course.

    Again, taking a year out usually makes things a lot harder when trying to get back, this may or may not be the case with PGCEs so you might not have to worry there.

    That being said, final year is usually a bit different, usually it's smaller classes with more emphasis on your own study and some sort of practical project. It is a lot harder than other years, but it's also the first real year that you actually do some proper work as well. Although I think this is slightly different in Scotland as they tend to do more in the third year, so you'll have a better idea of what it'll be like by then.

    That being said, making friends in university is all about meeting the right people, they might not be on your course or your year. Most of my good friends from uni were in different years, some were first years whilst I was in my final year. It's just how it works.


    Outside of this, my bit of advice would be: Don't live it home. It kinda sounds like you're trying to treat uni as just more school. If you're living at home you're not learning any of the many and wonderful life skills that you really need regardless of what you're actually going to do next. And you might as well learn whilst you still have a massive safety net around you (and really, there's a lot of people at uni who are there for you if you have problems, unlike the rest of your life where you'll be on your own).

    Rook on
  • Dr SnofeldDr Snofeld Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Rook wrote: »
    Outside of this, my bit of advice would be: Don't live it home. It kinda sounds like you're trying to treat uni as just more school. If you're living at home you're not learning any of the many and wonderful life skills that you really need regardless of what you're actually going to do next. And you might as well learn whilst you still have a massive safety net around you (and really, there's a lot of people at uni who are there for you if you have problems, unlike the rest of your life where you'll be on your own).

    I'd love to leave home but there's no way I or my family can afford it.

    Dr Snofeld on
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  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I did an ordinary degree, I had the chance of the extra year to do honours, but couldn't cos of family circs. I've gone back and done a Masters, and have deferred a PhD cos my dad is dying, but he's not dead yet, so its not that sad (he nearly died last Jan).
    Lewie's sister did an honours, he is, too. She was also advised to do a Masters if she could, but she'd had enough of being at Uni.

    I'd do the honours, the PGCE and then start working. get a couple of years teaching experience, then you could have a gap year working for an organisation like VSO - Lewie worked with them in his gap year before he went to Uni, and worked in Sri Lanka for 3 months. It was quite life changing for him.

    LewieP's Mummy on
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  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Your dissertation will be a hell of a lot of fun. I completed mine 2 years ago in Architectural Design and it was nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be. My girlfriend completed her honours degree in Zoology at Edinburgh Uni (where I'm guessing you are if you're thinking of the option of not doing 4th year, tell me if I'm wrong though) and your dissertation is heavily, heavily researched based where you will get the only opportunity in undergrad to really get stuck into a topic that interests you and learn a lot of information about it.

    Also it looks good when applying for a postgrad or a job if you can reference your dissertation in your CV or maybe take a copy for them.

    Seriously, you will regret not doing honours.

    Ponge on
  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Dr Snofeld wrote: »
    Rook wrote: »
    Outside of this, my bit of advice would be: Don't live it home. It kinda sounds like you're trying to treat uni as just more school. If you're living at home you're not learning any of the many and wonderful life skills that you really need regardless of what you're actually going to do next. And you might as well learn whilst you still have a massive safety net around you (and really, there's a lot of people at uni who are there for you if you have problems, unlike the rest of your life where you'll be on your own).

    I'd love to leave home but there's no way I or my family can afford it.

    Student Loan and Bank overdraft?

    Rook on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    These days it is unheard of to get an Ordinary degree. It's better to get a bad classification with honours than just to quit out now.

    Mojo_Jojo on
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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2009
    They wouldn't let us do honours if we took a year off first; we had to do a masters instead if we did (2 years). On the upside, you get a decent amount of time and a better shot at producing something good, on the downside, it costs more and takes longer. Check your faculty/course rules, anyway.

    Basically, its all about the project. If you know exactly what you want to do and how to do it ahead of time, it'll be easy (also, you need to know that you'll have access to the right gear etc). Otherwise, it'll be like my project, where I was basically doing some scutwork my supervisor hadn't got around to on samples I hadn't gathered myself, and where I had to send off to a government lab for half my dataset. The results of which were returned to me 5 days before my thesis was due because said government lab had decided to move its facilities to a new building after they received my samples. Yeah, that was fun. I still got a good mark, but I hated the entire process and it left me with a pretty thorough hatred of research.

    My advice is take a year, use it to work and stealthily research what you want to do, then enrol and blitz it. And if you want to do something even slightly detailed, go the masters. you'd be freakin' amazed how fast one year goes.

    But yeah, if you 'don't like academics', then why are you even in undergrad D: honours is a lot more work per day, and you won't be socialising all that much if you want to succeed.

    The Cat on
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  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    On the social side of thing University really is what you make of it. You haven't specified where you go but I can almost garauntee you that there are clubs and social activity groups that share the same interests as you. If you don't pick yourself up and get involved with others and meet people then yeah, it's going to be a lot less fun.

    Ponge on
  • Dr SnofeldDr Snofeld Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Ponge wrote: »
    Edinburgh Uni (where I'm guessing you are if you're thinking of the option of not doing 4th year, tell me if I'm wrong though)

    Dundee, actually, you're only off by a little bit :P.

    I didn't realise that Ordinary is regarded as Failure. I wonder why my advisor of studies told me the exact opposite.
    Rook wrote: »
    Dr Snofeld wrote: »
    Rook wrote: »
    Outside of this, my bit of advice would be: Don't live it home. It kinda sounds like you're trying to treat uni as just more school. If you're living at home you're not learning any of the many and wonderful life skills that you really need regardless of what you're actually going to do next. And you might as well learn whilst you still have a massive safety net around you (and really, there's a lot of people at uni who are there for you if you have problems, unlike the rest of your life where you'll be on your own).

    I'd love to leave home but there's no way I or my family can afford it.

    Student Loan and Bank overdraft?

    I'd like to avoid a student loan if at all possible, because it was never really explained to me properly and my mum kept telling me it was a Bad Idea (and for what it's worth she went to university herself). I get enough for lunches and travel expenses and similar, as well as games and stuff from the maintainance money I get from my dad and the pay from my extremely-part-time work.

    Dr Snofeld on
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  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Rook wrote: »
    Dr Snofeld wrote: »
    Rook wrote: »
    Outside of this, my bit of advice would be: Don't live it home. It kinda sounds like you're trying to treat uni as just more school. If you're living at home you're not learning any of the many and wonderful life skills that you really need regardless of what you're actually going to do next. And you might as well learn whilst you still have a massive safety net around you (and really, there's a lot of people at uni who are there for you if you have problems, unlike the rest of your life where you'll be on your own).

    I'd love to leave home but there's no way I or my family can afford it.

    Student Loan and Bank overdraft?

    I'd like to avoid a student loan if at all possible, because it was never really explained to me properly and my mum kept telling me it was a Bad Idea (and for what it's worth she went to university herself). I get enough for lunches and travel expenses and similar, as well as games and stuff from the maintainance money I get from my dad and the pay from my extremely-part-time work.

    You're mum probably didn't get offered the same loan you would have. The current incarnation of the loan is about the best deal on money you'll ever get in your life. The interest rate is super low, and you only have to repay if you're earning over £15,000 and even then it's a small percentage of that, enough that you'll not really notice.

    "It was never really explained to me properly" is not an excuse. Look it up, all the info is online, become an expert in exactly what you can expect to receive, when you have to pay it back and how to apply for it. Even if you end up not applying for anything you should have found this out and there's a fair chance you're eligible for some grant somewhere, so it's something you really should do as soon as possible.

    (disclaimer - I don't know the Scottish system, despite being in Edinburgh Uni :)

    Also, move out, grow up, and move back in after you've spread your wings a little. Growing up is not a case of getting older, it's about taking responsibilities and learning to look after yourself.

    Rook on
  • Dr SnofeldDr Snofeld Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    RE: grants: I used to be eligable for one until they changed the rules of eligability last year. Before they didn't take my mum's husband's income into account whereas now they do. So over the summer I went from a grant of £130 a month or so to absolute bupkiss. I'm not even eligable for travel expenses.

    Dr Snofeld on
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  • BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Given Lewie's mam said something about a PGCE, do you want to teach? If so, quite often only an ordinary degree is required.

    HOWEVER, if you want to do anything else, remember that at Uni's in the rest of the UK there is no such thing as an Ordinary degree, just a certificate of Higher Education if you drop out at the end of second year. If you want to work anywhere other than Scotland, it may be difficult.

    Money wise, a student loan is the best loan you will ever have in your life. The interest is stupidly low and you only start paying it off when you're earning a decent amount. Also, it doesn't count as debt in the same way as a normal loan in future years when you're trying to get a mortgage or whatever. All the advice from financial experts is that a student loan is a good idea. (Also, once Uni days are over don't rush to pay it off. You're much better using any spare cash and putting it in a high interest savings account).

    You also need to think about what you want to do job-wise. A lot of employers looking for graduates are going to expect Honours. Also, if you want to go back and do a masters later on, these days it is unlikely they will class you as qualified without the full (Hons) part of the degree.

    Generally, I would do the Hons year, complete your dissertation (which is usually the most fun thing in the Hons year) and get yourself to all the job fairs that will be run at the Uni and find yourself a nice Graduate Scheme to go into.

    BobCesca on
  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Could you look into getting a job as a Residents Assistant for your honours year? It will cut down/eliminate your rent and you'll get to hang out a bit more with people. Most people do it when they're in their second year but it may be a good option for you.

    Heres a list of societies you could join. It's easier at the start of a semester or when they have a large event coming up as they'll be expecting newbies. Just go along and talk to someone. Anyone. Go and ask who to talk to to join the society. Ask how long they've been at uni, what they're studying. Whatever, just strike up a conversation. If you're talking to commitee members give them your email address or phone number and ask them to let you know what there next event is. It's easier if they put on a weekly event.

    Also Dundee union has £1 a pint of tennants. Wow, I think I could drink myself to death there.

    Ponge on
  • Dr SnofeldDr Snofeld Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    It is Teaching I'm going into, yeah.

    Man, moving out... I mean I'd like to, but it's a bit of an intimidating thought. I don't know what to look for in a flat or anything, and all the ads I've seen for flats are like £200 a month or something. Would I want a room-mate, would I be happier by myself... Would I just take enough loan for rent, or would I use it for food as well...

    And yes Ponge, all the food and drink at the Union is dirt cheap. Students from all Universities welcome. :P

    Dr Snofeld on
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  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Dr Snofeld wrote: »
    It is Teaching I'm going into, yeah.

    Man, moving out... I mean I'd like to, but it's a bit of an intimidating thought. I don't know what to look for in a flat or anything, and all the ads I've seen for flats are like £200 a month or something. Would I want a room-mate, would I be happier by myself... Would I just take enough loan for rent, or would I use it for food as well...

    And yes Ponge, all the food and drink at the Union is dirt cheap. Students from all Universities welcome. :P

    £200 a month is dirt cheap :) You would take out all the loan you can get, even if you keep the excess in a savings account, you still come out better.

    Basically you've got a lot of choices, and you won't really know what you want until you've done it, which is why you ought to do it. My personal opinion is that living on your own is very expensive as you're footing all the bills yourself, and not much fun unless you're really reclusive or super social.

    My first opinion would probably be trying to move into University halls of residence, although that might be really hard to get into, if the halls are over subscribed. Loads of people do end up leaving throughout the year so there's usually spaces going. Check out the accomodation office at the uni as they'll probably have a list of people wanting someone to move in both in the student halls and probably privately.

    Otherwise you've got the private sector, where you can have a look and nosey around and see what you like. Sites like gumtree etc are usually better for me than trying to find a letting agency, but as a general rule all landlords and lettings agencies are assholes out to take your money and leave you in a deathtrap. It's being able to spot the good ones that gets you ahead in life.

    Even if you decide you'll stick at home, or wait out till the start of the next academic year, poke your nose out and have a look around. You're probably in the best situation as you don't have to find anything quickly.

    Rook on
  • Dr SnofeldDr Snofeld Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I am in fact pretty reclusive. Being at home doesn't help much since to get to the university or into town, or basically anywhere fun, I have to take a 25 minute bus ride, and I can't drive either. Which makes it hard to go to any events in the evenings in case I miss the last bus home.

    I'm sure I could manage on my own if I cut back on my computer usage to save power, and half the time I'm only on the PC because I have nothing else to do anyway. Of course I'd probably have to get another part-time job as well as my sporadic editing stuff so that'd get me out of the place. I don't eat all that much and I'm really anal about switching lights off and stuff, which helps.

    I'm pretty sure halls of residence are only open to first years, since Dundee is a pretty big uni and quite a popular one, especially for Life Sciences (something like 2nd best for it in Britain behind one of the Oxbridges).

    EDIT: I might have been wrong about the £200 thing. It's probably more.

    Dr Snofeld on
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  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Halls are just guaranteed for first years. They always have slots for students in higher years, they can just be rather limited. Still, apply! It's better than missing out on the university experience for another year.

    Mojo_Jojo on
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  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    The idea is to make you not be so reclusive :) People are allowed to change and hanging out with people is fun usually, when you find the right people.

    Rook on
  • Dr SnofeldDr Snofeld Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I've had a talk with my mum and she thinks it's all okay.

    Am I still able to get a student loan in the middle of a semester or will I have to wait until the start of the next academic year?

    Dr Snofeld on
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  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Dr Snofeld wrote: »
    Am I still able to get a student loan in the middle of a semester or will I have to wait until the start of the next academic year?

    Probably, phone up whoever it is that deals with them and tell them what you're planning, usually they're really helpful when it comes to these kinda things.

    Rook on
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