When you're finishing up school and looking to go to college, there are lots of decisions to be made! One of the most important decisions is what Bachelor's program you will apply for. There's lots to consider when picking a program, so here are our tips on choosing the degree which is perfect for you.
1. Remember that for certain careers, specific degrees are a requirement
If you know that after college you want to work as a doctor or an engineer, for example, then you will need to get a degree in medicine or engineering respectively. If you do have a very firm idea about what career you eventually want to go in to, then look up people who work in those jobs and find out if they have particular qualifications. You can also look at the entrance requirements for postgrad programs like clinical psychology training or law conversions if you know that you want to go into those programs after your Bachelor's.
2. But other than these careers, most Bachelor's degrees are broadly applicable
If you're like most people when they're looking for a Bachelor's course, you might have no idea what job you want to do in the end – and that's fine! The good news is that most Bachelor's degrees will teach you a broad range of skills and can be useful for all sorts of jobs. There might still be a perception that some sorts of programs (like science and mathematics) and more rigorous than others (like media studies or communication), but in practice often what employers are looking for is just a Bachelor's degree, and the particular subject that it's in isn't all that important. Of course, for highly competitive fields you'll have an easier time landing work if you can show how what you studied applies to the work you want to do.
3. Think about skills as well as knowledge
When considering what degree will set you up for a career, you shouldn't just think about the knowledge you will gain when you study. You should primarily consider the skills that you will gain – things like writing skills, critical thinking, data analysis and so on – and how useful those skills will be to eventual jobs. For example, knowing in what years an artist produced their most experimental work: not very useful. Knowing how to analyse a work and draw conclusions about its fit into a cultural context: very useful.
4. Consider what you find interesting and what subjects you've enjoyed before
It's obvious that if you did well in a subject at school, you might do well at it in college too – but don't just think about grades. Think about what you enjoyed, what you found engaging. It's so much easier to motivate yourself to study when you're truly interested in your subject.
5. Be open minded towards new subjects
You might think that there's a particular subject you've always hated, or something unfamiliar you've never heard of and therefore have no interest it. But the teachers and the setting make a huge difference to how engaging any subject is – so keep an open mind and ask people about their experiences with different subjects.
6. If you can't decide, you can always take a combination of subjects
There is always the possibility to study two subjects, either as a dual degree or as a major and a minor.
7. When choosing a college, look at the individual departments as well as the reputation of the whole college
It's easy to get swept up in the prestige of a particular institution, but what will make a much bigger impact on your studies is the specific department that you're in. Always make time to look into your potential departments when researching colleges, and find out about their reputation.
8. Don't underestimate the important of the location where you'll be studying
Do you want to live in a big bustling city? Or would you prefer a small college town? Somewhere hot and sunny, or chilled and cosy? Location can make a big impact on your quality of life, so try to imagine yourself living in the location of each college.
9. Think about practical issues like funding, travel, and accommodation
On a similar note, don't forget about practicalities like how much funding a program has available, or what the costs of living will be.
10. Remember that you can change majors or even colleges if you want
The final tip is not too panic too much! If you start a program and find that you don't like it, you can always transfer to another course. In fact, you can even transfer to a totally different college if you need to. So let yourself relax and choose a course which you're excited about.
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