Parents, relatives or any adults love to ask their children what they want to be when they grow up. Back when you were still a child, that may have seemed like a nonchalant question. But now that you’re on the road to college, knowing what you want for your future career is a vital first step.
To figure out what you want for college, you need to do more than just soul-searching. Here are some tips to help you find out what degree you should take.
Do some self-reflection
You need to ask yourself and know the reasons why you want to go to college. While some people just want to have a degree attached to their name, others go to college because they feel it is what is expected of them — even going as far as taking up a course they don’t want just to please their parents.
While wanting to get a degree is motivation enough, going to college for the wrong reasons will affect how you perform in the long run.
Below are some guide questions you need to ask yourself:
- What is your reason for going?
- What are your strengths, weaknesses and abilities?
- What are the things you want to do with your life?
- Do you need your family’s financial support or are you self-sufficient?
- After college, what do you plan to do?
Reflection requires deep thinking to carefully evaluate what you want to do and study for college. Talk to a college consultant (for impartial advice), or trusted family members and friends about your answers to the questions above. The people closest to you and who understand you best can help you the most in making such important life decisions.
Don’t overwhelm and scare yourself with stories you see on the headlines. It’s not true that colleges reject more and more students. If you are anxious about your chances of getting in, do some research and investigate.
There are many other options for a university which will be a great fit for you. Check your academic profile, and compare it to college admission requirements in the schools that you intend to apply to.
If you can, target three colleges or universities you would ideally want to be part of — basically your top three choices. Check out their criteria for admission, and get cracking!
Below is a step by step guide for sending out your college application/s.
1. Fill-up an application form
As part of the process of admission, most colleges will require you to fill out a basic information sheet either online or in print form. It’ll include details of your high school background, extracurricular activities and personal information.
2. Write an essay
Colleges usually require applicants to write an essay to get an insight into their character or personality. In some cases, they’ll let you choose your own topic. Remember to review and proofread your essay before submitting it.
3. Prepare your portfolio
Your portfolio provides a summary of your experiences, skills and interests. It can either help your application or affect your chances of getting in. Be cautious about what you include in your portfolio.
4. Prepare for the interviews
There are some cases when colleges need the applicant to have an interview or a round of interviews. So it’s best to prepare yourself beforehand. If you’re an international student, the outcome of your interview will be a major factor in your admission.
5. Wait patiently, and be optimistic
Think positive while waiting for your acceptance letter/s to arrive. Once you get your acceptance letter/s, it’s now time for you to decide which college to attend. And when you finally make a decision, don’t forget to inform your chosen school.
Brand doesn’t guarantee success
College is a time for exploration. Your success in life has little to do with your choice of college. In the future, employers will focus more on your outstanding experiences and skills.
When you search for a college, ask about student outcomes and find which resonates best with your goals. It’s not about “name brand” colleges. There are many college graduates who didn’t graduate from expensive or prominent universities but inevitably became successful.
If you have financial limitations, do not right away make the assumption that you can’t afford college, or that you will never get into college at all. Indeed, tuition fees are a worrisome factor; but remember, there are ways to get there and affordable options for you to choose from. Investigate early and ask for assistance.
Here are some options you can consider:
- Apply for a national grant available in your area.
- Look for an official benefactor.
- Apply for a local scholarship or any scholarship you will qualify.
- Apply for a financial aid.
- Ask around for options to become a working student in the college you are interested in.
- Find affordable colleges abroad.
Find a good fit
The most important factor when choosing a college is to find one that fits in with your goals in life. Choosing a school just because your friend is going there doesn’t take into account what you are and who you’ll become. College is not a prize you need to win but a match you have to make.
Applying for college admission can be quite intimidating, but as long as you remain positive and stay on course, you will soon succeed. Figure out what makes you happy and match it with what you’re good at. Just be true to yourself, and you’ll eventually figure out what you want.
Brian Giroux is an experienced college admissions advisor and co-founder of Capital College Consulting. Brian is a Professional Member of Independent Educational Consulting Association (IECA). Brian has worked with students from over 30 countries to help provide guidance through the US admissions process.
Brian’s experience includes 18+ years in education serving multiple roles as educator, athletic director, and college admissions consultant.