I remember telling my granddad and mum that I wanted to be a hairdresser and sweep hair off the floor. (That isn’t even what a hairdresser does but let’s move on.) Now I’m a lawyer. Suffice to say, we don’t know what the heck we want when we’re younger.
This article is important. This is probably the most important article you will read. I have heard from countless of classmates/friends/family that their degree either 1. Wasn’t something they liked 2. Wasn’t something that helped their career 3. Wasn’t something they found was worth the money.
You want to undertake an undergraduate degree. But you have no idea what to study, where to study, what you want to do after you graduate, what career you want to be in.
The list of questions is endless. But first, we have to decide on what you want to study, before we can move on to harder questions.
I can guarantee you that pretty much everybody has felt that fear when deciding what to study in their undergraduate degree. So don’t panic.
Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself to figure out what you want to do with the next few years of your life.
1.WHO ARE YOU?
A. What do you like?
i) What do you WANT to study?
- One piece of advice that always stuck with me was this: you will never be the best in your field if you don’t like whatever it is you’re doing.
2.Don’t undermine what passion does. People who enjoy their subject do way better at it than people who don’t enjoy their subject (assuming equal natural aptitude for that subject).
ii) What subjects are you currently studying that you LIKE?
iii) Do you like to read and write? Do you prefer calculations? Do you like debates or exact answers?
1.Do you sway more towards qualitative or quantitative analysis? This can help you decide whether you want to be in the arts stream or sciences stream. E.g. if you prefer exact answers, you won’t enjoy the slightly less exacting science of writing essays.
B. What are you naturally better at?
i) To give you an example of this: I chose to do Design Technology (DT) for GCSEs. I was terrible at DT, and all things that required me to do precise practical work, art, and design. But I chose it because I LIKED it. I switched from DT to Geography after one term. Basically, don’t just choose something you like to do, because you may suck at it, and being lousy at something is not fun. So on that note, don’t immediately cross out doing subjects you are good/great at but is not your favourite subject.
ii) List your academic strengths/weaknesses.
- NB This is a list not of what you like but what you are GOOD at.
2. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
A. What subjects are you currently studying for your pre-university course (A Levels/IB/AP)?
i) For example, most universities require you to have studied Chemistry and/or Biology to apply for medical school. Most Maths courses require you to have done Maths, and some preferably Further Maths. Engineering most likely require Maths and Physics. Research what certain degrees require you to study at GCSE/A Level before you pick your GCSE/A Level subjects.
B. Some degrees require certain GCSE grades. Most of the time at least a C is required in Maths and English.
C. So if you’re a keen bean and you’re reading this article before you’ve started your O Levels or A Levels, be sure that you choose the right subjects to prevent doors being closed when you choose your university degree.
D. If you’re not sure what you want to do, it’s safe to AVOID ‘softer’ subjects, like Photography/Media/PE/Business/Law (for A Levels this isn’t even recommended for those applying for a law degree) /Sociology, if you’re aiming for a traditional career path.
3. WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE?
A. Some career paths are really straightforward and require you to have a specific degree. Whereas some career paths accept a range of different degrees.
B. If you want to be a doctor, you HAVE to study medicine. There’s no way around it.
C. But if you want to be a lawyer, you can do the conversion course (GDL) after doing any degree you want. However this is not a viable option if you want to practise in Singapore. They don’t accept the GDL so you would have to read Law in university (and at certain universities only: https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/minlaw/en/practising-as-a-lawyer/approved-universities.html).
D. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you can pretty much do whatever you want, but Business or Economics might give you a better foundation.
4. WHAT WILL YOU LEARN?
A. Sometimes what you may learn in a Mathematics degree is nothing like what you’ve been doing in your A Level/GCSE Maths subjects. Or sometimes, I feel like I only like doing a subject because I’m good at it? But when it gets hard I don’t like doing it anymore? HAHA. So make sure you think about why you really like that subject first before you use it to base your degree choice on it.
5. I STILL DON’T KNOW?
A. Sometimes your university may allow you to transfer to a different degree course. This might be an option, though quite uncertain. You would probably have to email the university to confirm the possibility of this.
B. Sometimes you can do a double degree or a joint honours degree, e.g. History and Politics, Law and Business, you get the idea. Sometimes certain universities offer a joint honours but others don’t. This may be something to further consider.
C. Sometimes certain professions don’t require a specific degree, e.g. you can do a conversion course (the GDL) from any subject to practice as a lawyer. Other examples are media or business.