What do you want to be when you grow up?
This is the most popular question asked to almost every child.
The child wouldn’t even know what the career options out there are and what it takes to be a fire fighter or a doctor.
Kids are asked these questions in every phase of their lives and they have a different answer every time.
So, when you grow up and are actually finishing school, this question really hits home.
You suddenly realise it is time to make a choice and this choice could actually determine the rest of your life. Very few grow up knowing what they want to be when they grow up or what they want to study. These students are well prepared and would have done their research well ahead.
For those of you out there who haven’t thought much about it and are faced with the choices, here are a few tips to get your future in order.
Now that you are in a stage where you have to decide on where to study next, you realise there are plenty of colleges and universities to be considered. Here are a few ways to ensure you don’t make the wrong choice:
The first step is to list out all the colleges and universities around you. There will be quite a few around the area you reside in and there will be plenty in your state or outside your state. This way, you will know what all your options are and where you have more chances.
Now that you have a list of colleges and universities, do a basic research on them. Find out about the courses they offer, the duration, the fees, requirements to qualify, admission process, etc. This will help you understand more about them and help you narrow down your potential colleges.
Now that you are armed with enough information, narrow down the list. See which colleges and universities offer the course you want, which are affordable and fit into your future plans. You may want to study only for two years before you go out and get a good job or you might want to do higher studies before you start working.
Now, that you know what you want and what these colleges have to offer, prioritize. This way you will know which colleges you need to target first are, and which your back up options are. Split your list into three parts. First being the best colleges and the most difficult to get into. Second being the next best colleges and a little easier to get into. Third being the colleges you can surely get into.
Now that your list is ready and you know what is expected of you, start the application process.
After you have applied to a number of colleges and universities, you have to wait. The wait is over once you start hearing back from them. If you receive acceptance letters from more than one college, you have to make a choice.
Here is a quick checklist for you to follow during the entire college choosing process.
|To Do||Not To Do|
|Start your research early||Wait till the last minute to gather information|
|Talk to friends, family, seniors and others to learn more about the college||Blindly go by the information provided on the website|
|Consider your needs and dreams and choose a college accordingly||Choose a college because your friends or siblings chose the same college|
|Get financial assistance well in advance, to avoid disappointments or loans with high interest rates||Assume you can pay your college fees with grants and part time jobs|
|Collect application forms and submit the filled ones on time||Miss the deadline|
|Send in your formal acceptance letter and thank the management||Wait till the opening day to go in person to show your acceptance|
Now that you know how to choose the right college for you, the next step is to choose the major. There are a number of subjects offered by various colleges these days. Choosing the right major is important as it will decide which career line you will fit into.
However, many jobs are based on your soft skills like writing, presenting, etc, and don’t really bother about which subject you studied. But if you have the right subject knowledge, it is always an added advantage. When a company is considering 10 people for a job, if you have the right subject knowledge, you have a higher chance of being hired.
So, you will have to decide what career path you want to fit into and come up with a list of subjects you can major in for that industry. Out of these subjects, choose the one you enjoy the most or are comfortable with the most. There is no point in studying something you don’t like or understand.
Now that you know which subject you want to major in, which degree should you opt for? Every major subject has a few degrees associated with it. Many of the jobs are not restricted to a certain degree. There are work opportunities that only depend on your skills and general subject knowledge irrespective of what degree you hold in it. So, here is how you can choose right:
Are you an anxious parent who wants to ensure your kid chose the right degree and college? Though children are old enough to decide what they want to study, a parent should help the child to make the right choice. A parent’s input goes a long way in influencing a child’s choice. They tend to trust their parents’ judgements and seek their help.
If your child is about to enter college and is struggling to decide where to study, here are a few ways to help them:
Take interest in the entire college selection process and be a part of all the steps. Help your child with finalising on a list of colleges, filling out application forms and collecting details. Your child may not know what kind of details to look for.
Sit and talk to your teenager and find out what they want to do in life. Understand their ambitions and goals without ridiculing them. You will be able understand what the child needs to study to achieve their ambitions.
Go with your child to check out the campus, dorms, etc. As a parent, you know what luxuries your child requires and when you see a place in reality, you will be able to judge if it will suit your child. Also, you can ask the right questions when you are gathering information.
College education is no cheap affair. One needs to spend a lot to get a degree. Many students are forced to take a loan. Help your child find the right federal or private loan. Help them negotiate the terms and conditions as they have no experience in this field.
If your child requires a loan, help them find good loan options. If the options are not good enough, you can consider becoming a cosigner to help your child secure a loan. Getting loans with a solid cosigner is always easier.
Encourage your child to think outside the box and consider more options available. Children may choose a subject or college just because it is “cool” or because their peers are doing it. Help them understand this has to be an individual decision based purely on their skills and preferences.
As a parent it is essential that you are a part of the entire career planning process of your child. With your experience, you can tell them what to do and what not to do to have the career of their choice.
Whether you are a student deciding on his college or a parent helping out their child to choose the right college, the likes and preferences of the student has to be considered first. With the above mentioned tips and information, it should be easier for you to choose the right college for you or your child.