If you’re in grade 12, final exams should be wrapping up soon. What that means for you is that after a two-month summer break that is guaranteed to fly by, you could be starting college or university in the fall. For those continuing on to postsecondary education, this may be a time of nervousness or anticipation, because you might still be ambivalent about what you want to pursue. If so, read on for some ideas to help you choose the right program for you.

Interest in the subject

One of the first things to consider is your interest in the subject matter. Ideally, your high school courses have given you a taste of what it is that you might be pursuing in higher education. To succeed in your program, being motivated to learn is necessary, and interest, as a prerequisite for motivation, becomes a central factor in deciding your program: make sure that what you decide to pursue is something that you can study at least semi-enthusiastically for 4 years. One “insider” tip is to look up something called the undergraduate calendar for a specific program, this will allow you to see all the courses (with a small description) that are included in that program, which is helpful because the name of the program is often not enough to give a clear picture of what the program entails.        

Job outlook

It seems that this aspect can be overlooked in the decision making process, but researching the employment opportunities in your desired field is vital, at least if you wish to get a job once you graduate. Many rely too much on the opinions of close friends and family. Although the can be a valuable source for information, it helps to search things such as databases that offer labour market information, which can provide statistics that can clarify questions you may have. Aside from looking at the numbers, another popular research method among students is to read anecdotes en masse, most commonly through online forums. This is also helpful in providing a representative “feel” for a certain program for example, since you get to hear the opinions of many people. Researching job outlooks is especially important if the degree you are considering is not very clear cut in where it may lead, as opposed to, for example, a nursing or other professional degree, where the path is more defined.

Visit the college/university

Most post-secondary institutions have regular student visits throughout the summer. By visiting the university in person, you get to see if you think the environment is suitable for you, which is something you should consider since you will be spending quite a bit of time there. Also, some university tours offer subject specific segments, where you can get the chance to inquire about specific programs, and even talk to students or instructors currently in those programs.

All in all, enjoy your summer, but don’t forget that it’s an important time to gather information and make decisions that can impact the rest of your life.  

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