So, you want to be a geography student?

24th March 2015

Things they don't tell you about being a geography student

I’m coming to the end of my degree, and after three years of studying nothing but geography I have developed a love/hate relationship for the subject. But I’ll talk about that another time.

I think there is a lot of things people don’t tell you about studying geography at university, and I think there is an awful lot of confusion regarding what you actually study and what you can do once you’ve graduated.

So, here is a list of things that you should know about studying a geography degree…

  • It’s a physically demanding degree. Expect a lot of walking.
  • Field trips abroad aren’t as glamorous as they seem.
  • Rubbing soil against your teeth will become normal.
  • You will realise how rubbish you are at art after drawing a million field sketches.
  • There isn’t as much colouring in as you might expect.
  • You will pretend you can identify rocks but really you haven’t got a clue.
  • You will never be able to attend a pub quiz again for the fear of a geography round. The pressure is on!
  • People will thrust maps into your hands because obviously you have a great sense of direction.
  • You will constantly get confused looks from people when they ask you what you are studying…
  • …and then you will be asked “What are you planning on doing with that?”…
  • …or they will just assume that the only job you can possibly do is teach geography.
  • The jokes about working in McDonalds get old very quickly.
  • People buy you things with maps on, and that’s cool because maps are awesome.
  • Yes, you will draw maps and make them on GIS.
  • GIS will become the bane of your life.
  • Your lecturers will talk about all these amazing geography related jobs, but then you start to question why they aren’t doing them.
  • You will either love or hate human geography (I love it!).
  • You will carry a grain size card next to your bank card in your wallet, and look after it just as well.

Honestly, I could go on forever.

I guess my degree has had a lot more to do with rocks and science then I ever anticipated, and unfortunately a lot less human geography than I would have liked.

I have to be honest and say that it is a great degree simply because it’s so varied. It’s the study of the world, so of course it’s a vast subject.

I’m just not sure it was the right choice for me.

I hope I haven’t managed to put you off!

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  1. Melissa

    I do think, even when it’s not the right choice in the end after all… you still were able to learn a lot. You can always turn into a different path in your life anyway πŸ˜‰


    • Holly

      I certainly have learnt a lot, and most importantly I’ve picked up transferable skills. I’ve just got to find a way to show them off!

  2. Fun list πŸ™‚ Getting stuff with maps on sounds like a great bonus πŸ™‚

  3. Ahhh University, where it either improves or destroys your love for the subject. Human Geography does sound the most interesting, people are just so fascinating.

    • Holly

      Part of me hopes it’s just a phase and I will fall in love with geography all over again, but maybe not.

      Oh yeah, humans are fascinating!

  4. My brother was looking at studying Geography for a while, I’ll show him this list! Why do you rub soil against your teeth? It sounds like a very fun subject, I often which I’d have done Geography for the science aspects of it, like rocks and rivers. McDonald’s jokes will never end, I get them all the time with a theatre degree.
    I’m upset there isn’t as much colouring though – all I ever seemed to do in Geography was colour in bits of maps!

    • Holly

      Haha only geographers can relate!

      The teeth rubbing is to judge grain size. Some times it can be hard to tell the grain size by just looking or rubbing the sediment through your fingers, so one of my lecturers suggested rubbing it again your teeth as they are most sensitive. It’s not a technique I opted for very often for obvious reasons!

      My friend joked that his dissertation was a colouring in book. πŸ˜›

  5. Haha I think the McDonald’s jokes get old for many people in science (be it geography or biology). Just think of the skills you’ve gained πŸ™‚

    • Holly

      I just can’t believe geography is number 1 on the list of 20 degrees most likely to land you a job a McDonalds. Maybe they are referring to human geography?

      Either way, I’ll be aiming a little higher!

  6. I loved reading this post. When I taught at a university a while ago, I had a geography student and her studies were so interesting to me. I really enjoyed learning about her trips (though she said they got exhausting), and her classes! Anyone who asks you what you’re to do with your degree is an idiot!

  7. Elena

    What a fun post. Rubbing soil against your teeth will become normal. and: People buy you things with maps on, and that’s cool because maps are awesome. (Sounds awesome)

    I think it still sounds quiet interesting actually, even though there is a lot of variation. I hope that you find a job that you can enjoy and that might be related to your degree, or at least some of the things you have learned!

    • Holly


      I probably won’t get a geography related job because there aren’t really any out there, but my transferable skills should come in handy.