Choosing to do your tertiary education overseas is not easy. There are a lot of things to be thought about, especially when it comes to which country and university. But there is one thing that we need to choose wisely too: what we’re learning.
Most of the times, we put so much effort and thought into thinking which university we want to apply to. Hong Kong. US. Australia. Singapore. New Zealand. Everything else. Then we research about the universities: what are their world rankings? Do I have some friends who are studying there already? What about scholarships and fund options?
And I feel like we haven’t put enough emphasis on choosing our degree, major and subjects.
Choosing what we’re learning is important. I know some friends who hated engineering but chose the degree because their parents told them so. I know others fancied the idea of doing business, only to realise once again that their passion is in graphic design. While we can never be 100 per cent right in predicting our future, I would like to encourage you to stop and really think about your education.
Choosing the right degree
Choosing the right degree has everything to do with what you want to be in the future. Example.
When I was seventeen and fresh out of high school, I was accepted in doing Bachelor of Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne. Coming from a science background, with my first sister pursuing her PhD in Bioscience and my second sister halfway through her medical degree, Biomedicine was the logical option. But I knew something was missing, and I knew I wouldn’t want to just let my university years go by without really enjoying them.
Days before the application closed, I changed my degree to Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology and Media and Communications.
My reasoning? I never did like science, even though I excelled at it. I’ve always had an interest in learning communication, so I decided to go against the odds.
It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
After I graduated, I went to the workforce for one year and a half. By then I knew that I wanted to focus on writing and editing. I’m currently halfway through my Master’s degree in Publishing and Communications.
Learn your subjects with an end goal in mind
Over the years, I realise that there are two types of students: those who know what they want to get out of the subjects and those who just want to pass. For some time, I was the latter type, but studying Master’s makes me want to become the first.
If you’re learning a subject just to earn a degree, believe me when I say it won’t do you much good. To be able to really learn, you need to know why you’re learning it in the first place.
I’m a communications student and yet I’m taking a business subject. Why? Because I want to be able to write a business report. I need to take two core editing subjects and I’ve put a truckload of effort into them, not because of the grades but because I want to excel in my editing skills.
Why do I bother doing all these? Because I want to be a writer and editor one day. I might also open a business. I need as much knowledge as I can get.
I’ve learned to consciously choose the subjects I want to do, not only because they are easy, doable and important to finish my degree. Instead, I choose them because I want to learn the craft.
Exams and assignments will look differently when you realise that in the end, they are all for your own good; they are all to make you learn new skills that are important for your employability after graduation.
If you’re a student who’s going to commence the new semester soon, or just about to start your student journey, I encourage you to choose the next semester’s subjects with an end goal in mind. Learning your subjects will not be such a burden then, and you can reap what you sow years later in the future.
Photo Credits: “Study” courtesy of Moyan Brenn