“What should I study at university?” For some students, the question elicits an immediate and definite response—they know that they want to pursue Medicine, or study Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon. For others, that question can be anxiety-inducing and overwhelming. What course of study should you opt for? Where should you go to university? As long as your grades are good and you have some extracurriculars, you’re all set for getting into university, right?
The prevailing notion—especially in Singapore—is that grades are enough and should be the determining factor of where and what you’ll study.
The well-grooved path is to study hard, do well in your A-levels or IB, and choose to study a “practical” subject like Law, Business or Medicine at the best university that accepts you. Many students don’t even think twice about what they really want to study; they don’t take the time to nurture their interests and curiosity, or if they do, it is purely performative and completely in service of how their profile will appear in the college admissions pile rather than coming from a place of genuine interest.
With university admissions getting increasingly competitive each year, students have to be strategic about where they study and what they choose to study. Location, cost, and prestige is one side of the coin but how do these factors intersect with students’ aptitude, passion and goals? Can everything align?
With so many factors and variables, it can be difficult to know how to approach answering those questions. How can you be both strategic and intentional in figuring out what you want from your futures?
Let’s delve a little deeper into what it means to identify your passion, your aptitude and your goals in the context of the university admissions process:
Identifying your passion
In an ideal world, your passion would align neatly with your aptitude and strengths but that’s not necessarily always the case. You might love working with animals and aspire to be a vet, but if Maths and Science have never been your strong suit, it would be difficult to pursue that particular course of study. Or if you love music and performance but have never been a strong performer despite your best efforts, again, it would be difficult to forge a path forward purely on passion and interest alone.
Identifying your aptitude and strengths
Oftentimes, it is the case that our aptitudes and strengths lie in activities and skills that we enjoy. After all, it feels good to do well and to feel capable and accomplished. But that’s not necessarily always the case. If you’re someone who excels more in quantitative subjects like Maths, Economics or Physics but only pursues those subjects out of obligation rather than interest, would it be sustainable to choose or pursue a course of study based on aptitude alone?
Identifying your goals
Figuring out what your goals are and what you want to achieve is never an easy task. Will your subject choice be the be-all and end-all in influencing your earning potential in the future? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a hugely important decision. After all, higher education is a huge investment, and not just monetarily.
Even if your choice of study isn’t completely deterministic of your career path, it still bears significant influence in the knowledge and skills that you’ll gain. So think about the types of job that you might like to pursue, the kinds of work settings that you think you’d thrive in, the skill sets that you’d like to grow.
But, what if your passion doesn’t translate into your skill set? What if your passion isn’t a “realistic” career path? What if you just simply have no concrete idea of what your future goals are?
Don’t panic. Remember that the admissions process is a process and there are actionable steps that you can take to make the whole process more manageable.
If you have more questions, stay tuned for the second part of our series and an exciting announcement about a new programme that we’re launching in November. In the meantime, you can always schedule a complimentary consultation with our consultants to get a better understanding of what your needs are.