Where and what to study at University?
- 15th February 2016
- Posted by: prepwork
- Category: Tips & Advice
This is probably the biggest question you’re facing this year. In a world where we have so many options, Samsung S6, iPhone 6 or Sony Xperia, even buying a simple device can be challenging let alone picking your future. Perhaps we just have too many options.
Here are a few simple questions to answer to help you narrow down your choices and make the decision a bit simpler. (And take the pressure off hopefully!)
What system have you been in?
If you are from the British education system, there is no doubt you should apply for UK anyway as first you already have your A levels which are recognizable by any UK university, and you can kill 5 birds with 1 stone: one application, sent to five universities of your choice. You may want to start thinking of US if you would like but bear in mind you need to take America’s Standardized Aptitude Tests (SATs) and it will be a booklet of information that requires filling in PER university. Some US Universities don’t require SATs (see here http://blog.prepscholar.com/ the-complete-guide-to-sat- optional-colleges) but the majority of top universities still do. There is also Canada, Australia, Europe and New Zealand who have very reputable universities which are slightly less competitive versus the top UK and US universities. If you are from the US system, then US it is, as most UK universities require British qualifications like A levels and IB at secondary level education.
Do you want to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, architect, vet, dentist? (and you want the quickest route to qualify)
The above are the only professions you have to decide on RIGHT NOW at your age (as these are the only professions that require you to have the correct qualification, take the most time and so are hard to have a change of heart half-way through). If you have indeed decided on one of the above, I’ll recommend the quickest no-nonsense and very well reputed routes which is to go to the UK (or Ireland or Australia for Medicine) with the exception of Engineering which is also just as good if not better (just a year longer) in the US. If you don’t want to be any of these professions, you actually have a few more years to decide what you really want to do as a career, and just focus on applying to an area of study you are strong at and love. Because in this day and age, most careers accept a plethora of degrees, apart from a few science and research positions of course. Careers like event management, accounting, management consulting or even investment banking don’t require specific degrees, but bear in mind you may need to catch up a little and read a lot in your spare time to understand the industry if you want to succeed in applying without an economics or finance-related degree.
Where do you want to work in the future?
It also really depends where you want to end up working after university, but in general US is better in terms of lifestyle and opportunities for high-technology aspirers and entrepreneur wanna-be’s as most US universities will encourage some form of entrepreneurism with a lot of interactive events with industry not barring the fact they have the fastest growing tech companies in the world.
Do you still not know what you really really want to study?
If you are undecided about what to really study and specialize in, America gives you the extra year to experience different courses in your first year, ranging from music technology to biology to psychology. The only downside is their Bachelor’s degree is 4 years versus 3 years in the UK, spending that extra first year sampling a range of different subjects. America gives you the ability to mix such a breadth of subjects that you can even come out with a major in Operations Manufacturing and a minor in Economics, also widening your career options.
How about the US Liberal Arts Colleges?
There is an uprising popularity in Liberal Arts education.
Liberal Arts is the broadest degree of America’s higher education, almost like the IB (international baccalaureate) in that you are expected to take a compulsory range of subjects, namely in philosophy, mathematics, literature, art history, economics, languages etc, rather than applied or specialized fields. It is not intended to train you for a specific job but rather to provide you with an invaluable set of employability skills, including the ability to think for yourself, skills to communicate effectively and the capacity for lifelong learning. The colleges are a lot smaller and intimate, with a smaller teacher to student ratio, and therefore much more interaction. Those who have studied the differences carefully realize in terms of career, those with Liberal Arts degrees are more adaptable and start to show their true colours doing better than those with the normal college education after about 10 years in industry, citing that they carry with them not only the invaluable work experience but many other softer, transferable skills which give them an edge over others.
What is a Liberal Arts degree? Click here for more details:
Here are 5 reasons to choose a Liberal Arts degree:
If you want to find out what is different about Liberal Arts degrees vs the normal US university degree see here:
Last pieces of advice to help you on your way…
My last piece of advice would be if you are still not sure or want to affirm your choices, talk to one of our counselors! We can give you much more information so you can make a more informed decision before you take the plunge and also to manage your expectations! Perhaps a dream course is not all it appears to be, or other courses which seem boring on the outside are actually incredibly satisfying and not all that hard on the inside.
Also visit the schools if you can! You can only tell from walking around the grounds (and get mesmerized by the scholarly atmosphere and inspiring surroundings) to talking to a few of the past alumni. If you cannot find time or the expenses to visit, do as much research as possible by surfing the web, reading up about the college and the courses and ensure you are picking where and what to study based on the important reasons: a subject you love, a career you might want to do, a course structure which is the best for you, a good reputation with exceptional teaching, and a place you will thrive in both personally and intellectually. And if none of these are clear, we already have a few tips above to keep those options open. More questions? Talk to us for more info!