Three reasons why I chose to study Cognitive Science and what I wish I knew beforehand.
1. I wasn’t sure what to study
Basically, going into university I had no idea what I wanted to study or do later in life. I was interested in psychology and languages; and I was really curious about philosophy. But also, I hadn’t studied any of these previously, at least not at a level that would make me confident to “commit” to, say, single honours linguistics. Plus, I wanted to know more about how the human mind works.
So Cognitive Science seemed like a great choice because it had so much to offer: There are two dedicated CogSci courses in first year – one humanities-based and one in the School of Informatics. On top of that we do some linguistics, philosophy, psychology and / or informatics courses. From year two onwards, we get to focus on 3 out of the 4 areas. That pretty much covered all the bases for me, so now I’m here.
2. The flexibility of the degree
One big selling point I kept hearing at the open day and through out my first year, was that the degree is very flexible. As in, you have a lot of freedom to pick and choose what courses you want to do early on. What’s more, as long as you end up doing one course out of the three areas you chose to focus on across third and fourth year, there aren’t actually any compulsory courses (at least to my knowledge).
So again, being a bit undecided and equally interested in different areas, this made CogSci the perfect choice for me. But also, I knew there was the possibility of changing degree if I ended up enjoying one particular area the most. So even though I was pretty sure CogSci was my best choice, I felt like I had back up options.
3. Edinburgh !!
Last but not least, I kind of sort of fell in love with Edinburgh immediately the first time I visited for the offer holder’s open day. Normally, I don’t really care where I am? As in, I don’t reallyyyy pay much attention to my surroundings beyond getting from A to B, or whatever is relevant to what I’m doing. So I was really surprised when I got here and just absolutely adored the place.
What I wish I knew beforehand
All that said, here’s one thing I wish I knew before: keeping all your options open, so to speak, won’t necessarily help you figure out what options you actually want to go for. I mainly picked CogSci because I wasn’t sure what to study. So, I spent a large chunk of my first year wondering whether I was really on the right degree for me. A lot of people in my year seemed so enthusiastic about topics I didn’t care that much about. Then again, it doesn’t make much sense to change degree, if I can take the courses I’m interested in on the CogSci degree anyway. In that sense, I think this flexibility can be both a blessing and a curse – especially if you are undecided going in.