Psychology BA or Art?.. with MH problems thrown in, overwhelmed but feel I need to make a choice (mature student) Advice desperately needed.

(12 Posts)
ladyjadie Wed 28-Aug-13 12:23:30

Hi everyone,

I just need advice on that really. I'm 27, nearly 28 and have been off work for two and a half years, signed off on ESA for chronic depression. Have been living with my mum for two years since my last (possibly EA, definitely awful for my mental health) relationship ended. the relationship left me with very little self-confidence and trying to find a job in the last half a year of it (shop work etc) and not even getting one interview didn't help either. I read a lot on here about financial security for oneself and I want to be financially independent and not on benefits.

The Short Version

I'm thinking about uni now but have so many doubts and am very overwhelmed at the thought, plus worry I lack motivation, and cannot decide whether I should try for an Art course (where my heart lies but not sure what I could do with after) or a Psychology degree (which has more prospects [I think?] but I'm not sure I'm capable of doing that many essays, they were never my strong point). Basically just thinking and talking about it scares the shit out of me

More information (Aka the long version)

I have a lovely boyfriend of one year who got a degree in engineering when he was 29 after going straight to uni and then dropping out at 18/19 and he has inspired me into thinking about going to uni. Thing is, when I was doing A-levels I was in a really abusive relationship at a boarding school, which was really intense (seeing each other whenever we had free time) and tbh I was pretty immature then and tended to leave everything til the last minute, then do as little as possible to get by. I got two D's and a C for A-level, not great at all. My boyfriend at the time convinced me I didn't need to go to uni (he wasn't, and didn't want me to either, because we were going to get married and have babies) and stupidly I listened. Then of course we broke up when we finished school, and I was devastated. I got a job working as a waitress for a bit but hated it, left and got a job in a shop for six years. I was ok with that then as I just wanted to have fun etc. and was still living at home so didn't have to worry as much about bills etc.

Basically I wasn't thinking about my future at all then and made bad choices. Now I see my best friend getting a degree and landing a good job (she's a bit younger than me) and regret just 'making do' when I could have been learning. I did a college course in foundation art to get me on my feet, two years ago for one year. I did pretty well despite having to miss three months of it to go into an experimental residential treatment centre, three distinctions and the rest merits/passes, and tutors told me I have potential. Thing is being 27 I feel 'too old', my self confidence is on the floor, I worry I'd fail, or be overwhelmed by work and I can't decide if I should try for an art-based degree or a psychology degree. I find psychology interesting because I have MH problems (and to an extent feel quite 'different' to 'normal' people, and am intrigued by what makes people tick) but art as a whole is/was what I love, i have lots of ideas, although I haven't done much recently because motivation is rare sad and couldn't choose a specific medium which I know you have to do at uni.

I have no idea what I want to do or become in life and never have (except I knew I wanted to be a pole dancer at 15 hmm I always just thought one day I would suddenly see a career path I fancied but it hasn't happened. I just know I would like to make something of myself.

GAHHH if anyone could give me advice or anything I would be so grateful.

SunshineBossaNova Wed 28-Aug-13 12:34:02

Hello OP

I'm nearly 42 and about to start the second year of a BA in English. You are absolutely not too old, my oldest fellow student is about to start a BA at 68 smile

Have you looked into art courses yet? I'm sure not all unis will make you specify a medium. As someone with MH issues I'm sure that you would receive additional support from whichever university (or subject) you choose.

www.thestudentroom.co.uk/ The forum on this website is pretty good for answering more 'random' questions about university, it might be helpful.

ladyjadie Wed 28-Aug-13 12:40:21

Thankyou Sunshine I think the 'too old' thing is bull really, a red herring, I'm great at picking reasons why I can't do things when I'm worried about them!

Will look at that site too thank you

VivaLeBeaver Wed 28-Aug-13 12:50:59

I'm sure I've read that psychology is one of the worst degrees for job prospects afterwards. So please look into this. Don't automatically think that getting a degree will better your job prospects.....there's a lot of unemployed graduates/graduates working in call centres out there.

But if you want to do a degree then follow your heart and do an art degree would be my advice. But maybe get some proper career advice first.
Find out what you can do with an art degree.

BlehPukeVomit Wed 28-Aug-13 15:26:36

Are you sure you have looked at all the options. There are so many things that you can do. Have you properly looked into job prospects and salaries.
Have you looked into whether you could actually get into a reaonable University and what about financing it. Student loans do not go far. Have you savings or anyone see who can help you out.

You need to be very realistic and practical. It is fantastic that you have a passion for art but the passion might dwindle if you later realise that it won't provide you with a means of supporting yourself.

Wishfulmakeupping Wed 28-Aug-13 15:28:29

What viva said

BeenFluffy Wed 28-Aug-13 18:02:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

creamteas Wed 28-Aug-13 18:18:47

I went to uni at 28 and I was not the oldest mature student by any means. I now work at a different uni and our oldest undergraduate was in their 70s when they started, so you are definitely not too old!

If you lack confidence, you need to make sure that you pick a degree that you are really suited too, when the going gets tough, you need to hold onto the joy of the subject to see you through.

For anything other than art, I would suggest an Access course to get you into essay writing. Also you will need to be confident in Maths for a Psychology degree, so this is something else to consider.

I suggest that you go to a couple of universities open days, and see what is on offer, they will also be able to give you advice on entry qualifications.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 28-Aug-13 21:20:28

Is the psychology degree accredited by the BPS (british psychology association)? If it's not, then it's not really a useful qualification for a career "in psychology". In general, if you want to go into clinical psychology, then you will also need to do additional years of study after your degree. This is true for most psychology careers, unfortunately.

Whilst most degrees don't actually focus on mental illness, you should also bear in mind that there may be some triggering content during the degree.

Most people who do well at their degrees have a real passion for the subject, more than just finding it a bit interesting. If your passion is art, you should definately go for the art degree. I don't think you'd be expected to chose a specific medium straight away in first year. However, an art degree will probably be quite work intensive.

I think it will be easier to get on an art degree for you, as your old college will be able to help you apply, and provide you with a reference. As you did so well on your art foundation course, you'll have the confidence to know you will do well.

Have you been to any university open days? Knowing more about course content and how the course is assessed may help you decide?

Jewelledkaleidoscope Wed 28-Aug-13 22:07:48

I would go for art. Do the thing you're good at.

Volunteer as you study in the sector you'd like to go into.

Have you thought about art therapy? It seems like it could be a good career path for you

micerunquickly Thu 29-Aug-13 19:46:45

I have done a BA Fine Art course as a mature student and also have had similar MH issues. It's a course that will really help you develop as a person, not just studying academically but exploring you as a person, which at your stage I think is essential, rather than rushing into a course based on employment prospects.

If you did your foundation two years ago, I would recommend doing some short courses to build up your portfolio. I doubt it's possible to get on to a course for 2013 entry at this stage (at a decent art school there won't be clearing places) so you have some time to prepare a portfolio and for interview. It would definitely be worth getting in touch with your old college, you will need their support for references and they'll be able to offer advice on the right institution for you.

All the art schools are very unique in their approach so go to as many open days as you can and ask lots of questions. Some schools ask you to choose a medium at the time of application, others will let you apply to a general BA Fine Art course. But, some courses can be very broad even when they specify a medium (e.g. students end up using photography even though they're on a Sculpture degree), and so-called general courses demand you to choose practical modules so you end up having to specialise anyway. What is important is that you have some recent work, and you are able to talk about the concepts behind it and how you would develop it.

You should also contact student services at the institutions you've shortlisted and they can offer advice on what support they offer. You can get Disabled Students' Allowance to cover the cost of mentoring, in my case they also funded a MacBook, extra photocopying costs, taxi fares, dictaphone. And the university may offer extended deadlines and other forms of support like longer library loans.

AcrylicPlexiglass Thu 29-Aug-13 19:56:09

Do art.smile Sounds like you like it and are good at it.

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