How To Choose Your University/College If You Don’t Know What You Want To Do
So picture it.
You’re in grade 12, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you…and…you’re stuck. You’re thinking: what the f*** do I do? Do I follow my older brother into engineering? Should I be a graphic design artist like my mom? Maybe I should take economics like my dad…Wait, what about what grandma wants? But I love the circus! Maybe I should go to theater school instead and be the next Anne Hathaway or George Clooney. That’ll make mom and dad proud! Maybe university/college is the right option. So many thoughts and so many counselors are throwing options at you, left and right, “Here’s a presentation from Western University! UBC! Scholarships!” So many options, so many choices to make, and you still have no idea what you want to do or be. And that’s okay.
Your first task is not to let anyone bully you into thinking that you SHOULD go into one thing or another. Don’t let your scientifically-minded grandma tell you that you should be a biologist, and don’t let your painter mother tell you that your gift in drawing will be wasted unless you go to art school. It might be hard, but you have to shake off all of the people that are trying to tell you what you can and can’t do. Do anything and everything you want. It’s your goddamn life.
Secondly, what’s your family budget?
Are your grades the kind of grades that get you scholarships? Do you have a particularly strong talent in sports/dance/art that you feel you could take to university? As much as it sucks, university/college is really expensive and being accepted to your dream school before finding out you can’t afford it sucks even harder. So, take a look at what’s realistic for you. Are you working? Can you pay back a student loan? How much can you realistically pay back? All of this is worth looking into. Use a tuition calculator at your bank. Going into this with some idea of budgeting is a really good idea.
Now, think about your learning style. Do you like a ton of people in an auditorium, listening to a lecture? High-tech rooms? Big huge campuses with lots of student activities? Maybe a university is better for you. If you prefer small classes, a smaller campus, more people-driven classes, college is probably the best fit for you. College professors tend to build more of a personal rapport with their students, and there are less noisy student life activities. It all depends on how you learn best. Neither is a definitive choice once you make it; lots of students take their first two years in college, then transfer into the specialized program in the local university.
Third: Where do you want to go?
Do you want to stay in Canada? If you’re in Halifax, do you wanna go to UBC and get as far away from your parents as possible? Or something more familiar, like Dalhousie or somewhere in the maritimes. Think location for university/college. If you like, you can also look at some universities or colleges abroad. (These tend to be more expensive, so watch out). It’s very important that you enjoy the place you’re studying in. If you want to learn Spanish, there are some amazing universities in Spain. Same with France, Ireland and The Netherlands. Sky’s the limit!
Psst…Write all this down and start answering these questions as you read. It’s worth it.
Fourth! What’s your love/talent?
Are you a dancer? A soccer player? A baseball player? If you don’t like sports, what about school subjects? Do you tend to do better in science and/or math classes, such as Calculus, Biology and Chemistry? Are you more literary-minded, and prefer Geography, Literature, English, Creative Writing and alternate languages? Or are you more of a fine arts person, who loves to draw, paint and create? Start jotting down all your favourite activities (Arguing with your parents counts! Great lawyers are made from argumentative teens). If, while doing this, you realize you REALLY want to study chemistry, or you REALLY love to draw, search up the best schools for that in the area you want.
However, if you still don’t know what you want, take all these subject preferences into account, and start looking at the top 5 university/college choices in the geographic area you want to study in. Then, go to the A-Z directory of their undergrad programs and take note of ALL the courses you’d be interested in taking. All of them! Doesn’t matter if there are 15 for one school and 2 for another. Then, once you’ve looked at every program in every school you’re considering, start narrowing it down. Most schools only want you to give one program choice, but some let you have two. Once you’ve got it down to one or two programs per school, that you can afford, start applying! Lastly, as a warning, some application fees can get pretty pricy.
You’re done! Good luck on your path to university, college, work, or wherever life may take you. You’ve got this!