Nikita is a student on the Social Science BSc, class of 2019. She tells us about finding her true interests.
What made you choose your particular subject area?
I started studying another programme at UCL but I didn’t enjoy it, so after four weeks I left as it wasn’t the right one for me. I knew I liked UCL so I applied to study the Social Science BSc the following year. I picked social sciences because I wanted to be able to study different subjects like psychology, sociology and education - not just one thing.
How did you choose UCL?
I came to UCL with my school on an open day in year 11 and I really liked it. I am from London and I knew I wanted to stay. UCL has a really good reputation so it ticked all of the boxes for me. Also at UCL there is a good balance of academics but also there are lots of opportunities to socialise and enjoy yourself too.
What have you found most valuable about your degree programme?
I volunteered as a mentor at UCL Academy, a school in North London, and tutored in Sociology for a few months. They were really nice kids – they bought me chocolates and flowers at the end and they all did really well in their exams. It was a really rewarding experience.
Last year, together with a group of other Social Sciences students, I set up and was the Treasurer of the Social Sciences Society. The department were really supportive of that.
There is also the journal, The Lens, so if you are into writing academic pieces you can get involved in that. I did that in my first year. There are lots of opportunities to get involved with!
What is the biggest challenge you face while studying?
I think coming back from the summer break is always such a shock to the system because you have to get straight back into the swing of things. But after a while you get through that and readjust!
What do you hope to do after completing your degree?
I’m still a bit undecided. I am thinking of going into something to do with education policy. Next week the UCL Careers Service are hosting Government and Policy week which is a series of different events that will give me a chance to hear from those working in government, people who influence policy and leaders in the public sector. I am going to three talks and I think that will be really helpful in helping me figure out the options that are available to me.
There are loads of different societies which are really helpful career-wise too. There's the Advertising, Marketing and PR Society and Consulting Society in the UCL Student's Union and they both host lots of different talks.
Tell us what it is like to live and study in London.
I like how busy London is – it makes you feel alive! There are always things to do which is exciting! It is such a diverse place as well. I didn’t think that I would be sitting in a seminar with people from all over the world with such different backgrounds and life experiences – I think that really does broaden your mind.
“Also in London you are surrounded by people working. The contacts and the people you meet are really good. A lot of open days and insight days for businesses are based in London so that is really handy. I am probably going to end up working in London so I think it is good to get myself ready for city life now.
Is there anything you like about UCL’s academic facilities?
I used the libraries a lot last year around the exam periods. During exams the libraries tend to be open 24 hours a day. They do get busy but around exams you can usually use seminar rooms as well to study in so you can always find a place. The UCL Institute of Education has just opened some new student study spaces too which are really nice. UCL students also have access to all of the University of London facilities so I sometimes go to Senate House to study. There is a room there with lots of sofas which is really nice for reading as it is a bit more of a relaxed space.
Have you felt supported during your time here?
When I started the course I was very cautious as I had left another course after realising it wasn’t for me and I didn’t want that to happen again. In the first week I was allocated my personal tutor and she was so welcoming and calm. On this course you get to really know your tutors, they know you by name and you can pop by and see them during their office hours. As I know my tutors and they know me, I feel that I can go and talk to them more easily about any problems I might be facing.
What do you do when you’re not studying?
I have met really good friends through Social Sciences so I spend time with them. I go out with them quite a bit – obviously we are in London so I take advantage of that in terms of things to do in the city.
How easy was it to settle into university life?
It was quite an adjustment. My brother and I started university at the same time but we were the first in our family to go so I didn’t really know what to expect - I didn’t know anybody that had a degree let alone a PhD so coming here was a bit of a shock. The people you meet really help because you are all in the same boat so you are going through the settling-in process together.
What would you say to somebody thinking of applying to the IOE to study your course?
Think about what you really enjoy. Think about what you really want to study. University is a big investment and based on my experience of going into a degree that I hadn’t really researched and not enjoying it, I would really recommend finding out as much about the course before you apply.
That being said I have really enjoyed studying Social Sciences and I really like that there is a broad range of subjects you can pick from so you can shape your time here.