How to Choose the Right College or University Program for You
Choosing some interesting subjects is an important first step in the whole process of deciding just what program you'd like to take in college or university. Without thinking this one over carefully, you could find yourself in a course that you really don't care for, and for obvious reasons you probably won't do so well in. This is the downfall of many students.
To give yourself a better chance at picking the right courses for yourself, when it comes time to apply, there are a few things you should consider:
- What are your likes?
- What are your dislikes?
- What were your favourite subjects in high school?
- Were there ones you'd rather avoid?
- What can you see yourself enjoying five years from now?
What are your likes?
So you are stuck when it comes to deciding what kind of program you want to get into, huh? Don't worry about it. You certainly aren't alone. This is a common problem for many high-school students (or even adults) trying to decide upon a new career.
Well, where should you look for inspiration as to what you might want to be in your future? A good place to look is to your hobbies. Think about something that you do already, and like it enough that you don't even think about getting paid for it? Really... take a minute now and think about it.
Now just imagine if you could do that same thing (or something very similar) and make a living at it? Wouldn't that be perfect? Do you like cooking? Why not consider becoming a chef? Do you like writing? Why not look into some courses in journalism? What about helping people with their problems? If you do, consider a career in social work.
Obviously, the choices are going to be very different for everyone. The most important thing to remember is if you like it, and you like it enough to be doing it already, or you've always had a passion for it, and wanted to do it in the future, that could be a good subject to look into for yourself.
What are your dislikes?
So, you haven't been able to narrow down your choices enough just yet? That's okay. We'll just take a different approach to the subject and see what comes of it.
This time, instead of things you enjoy doing already, I now want you to think of things that you can't stand. This way, you'll know what kind of career paths you might rather avoid. Not to say that you have to avoid it completely... if you are the kind of person who likes to overcome certain things - say their fear of math, then, by all means, enrol in accounting if that is your life's goal.
Now, if it's the thing you dislike that is keeping you away from the subject you were thinking about enrolling in, is there a way that you can change the circumstances slightly, so you can still do what you enjoy, without doing the part that you'd dislike?
For instance, let's say you really enjoy helping people learn new things, but you hate having to go to the front of the class where you are the centre of attention. So, becoming a teacher is probably not for you, but how about something with fewer people? What about becoming a tutor? Now all you have to do is decide what subjects you'd like to tutor people in. Those subjects would then fall into a specific course that you could apply for in college or university.
Again, everyone's opinion as to what they like and dislike is going to be very different, so you are going to have to sit down for a while and really think about it before you come up with an answer.
What are (were) your favourite subjects in high school?
If you're still stuck as to which courses to apply for in college or university that's okay, I'm not giving up on you yet. I know you can do it! And couch potato isn't a valid career unless you have been assigned the duty of testing out the new factory merchandise. That would be like becoming a professional ice cream taster. Two valid life choices, but I'm afraid I don't know of any courses you could apply for in those fields.
Anyway, back to the lesson. How about this? Do you have any of your old report cards still kicking around somewhere? Better yet, can you remember how you did on them? I'm hoping you were able to answer 'yes' to at least one of those questions because otherwise, this next section might not help you out too much.
Anyway, which subjects did you excel in? Could you be a history genius in the making? You never know, you could be. If you are enjoying or did enjoy) it in high school, and didn't do half bad at it, perhaps a BA in History has your name written all over it. What about math, or auto shop or computers? What was your 'thing'? Chances are they have something along the same lines in college or university.
What are the subjects you'd rather avoid?
Another approach to thinking about would be figuring out what you want to do, what you think you can do, and what you think you can't do. Knowing the subjects that you just aren't good at, or you would just rather avoid is just as important as the ones that you do like and want to pursue. This may if you have too many possibilities, it can help to narrow down the list a little more.
Tip - If you are still stuck, a good place to look is to a college's or university's course calendar - many of these can be found online. Just search for institutions in your area and take a look at what they are offering. You can usually also find lists of all the courses offered and often the subjects are required as a prerequisite to the specific courses. Also a little description of what you can expect during the course, and what careers are possible after graduation.
What can you see yourself enjoying five years from now?
So, with all the choices you have before you - the old ones you thought up on your own, and the new ones you read about in either a course calendar or online at a college or university website (you did read about some courses, right?), you may be wondering about some ways to narrow them down.
If that is the case, ask yourself this question - Can you see yourself in five years still liking the career you've chosen? How about in ten years?
Really, it's not the end of the world if you choose the wrong course for you your first time around. Many people do it and transfer into another course the next year. The only problem with that is tuition can be expensive. For some people, very expensive, so making the best decision early on is always best. So if you really can't see yourself in a certain career five or ten years down the road, you might as well scratch it off the list now, instead of paying out thousands of dollars to decide halfway through the school term that the path really isn't right for you.
You also have to take into account that the schooling itself for certain careers can take a wide range of times to complete. Some can take as little as a year, while other professions, like for instance law or medicine, can take several years. So, if you really aren't in it for the long haul, then perhaps it's also best to think about other options.