14 Mar Choosing your Degree Part One: Rubie
We asked two of our International Ambassadors to give us their advice and their stories on choosing a degree subject, this is the first post in our series, exploring Rubie’s undergraduate experience.
I know. Growing up is actually a trap. At 10 we’re like “come on, I want to be older”, by 15 we’re like “yes, yes, almost there” and right about now, we’re like “okay, so when exactly does this get fun?”
Sorry to burst your bubbles, the fun started already. The fun is actually in your ability to begin to take responsibility and make decisions that directly affect your present life and the future. One of the major decisions you’ll have to make if you decide to go to university is “what do I really want to do with my life?”
For me personally, I was so clueless in the beginning. I had no idea what I wanted to do and I really didn’t even know if I wanted to go to university. It was even worse and more confusing for me because I was pretty good across all my subjects so it was hard to see my strengths from just looking at the subjects I took in high school. I began to panic. Fear not however! These are the steps I took to understand what I wanted to do and to make key decisions:
- Don’t panic
At the start, it’s all going to seem very daunting and you’ll likely feel as clueless as I did, trust me that it’ll still all work out fine and you will come to know what you want to do.
- If you have an opportunity, see a career adviser
After about 2 weeks of panicking, I decided to go in to see a career adviser. This was easy for me as I had an adviser in my school, so I simply booked in to have a chat with her.
With the first few minutes it might feel like a waste of time but trust me, they usually know where they’re going with all the questions they ask, so answer truthfully and stay positive.
I still didn’t know what I wanted to do after meeting the adviser but I did have some clearer direction and advice about how to make the decision: I started to think about my interests, my hobbies, the things I enjoyed doing and those that I didn’t. It’s handy to have some paper and a pen when doing this, it makes it a lot clearer.
Don’t forget that career information can be found online too, so if you don’t have immediate access to an adviser or you just want to get going now, this might be a good starting point.
After this process, I was able to identify my strengths and weaknesses, I realised that even though I was good at both numbers and texts, I preferred dealing with numbers and that made me feel more relaxed. Progress.
- Get some time alone and think for a minute about what you actually enjoy
It could be the smallest things, like in my list, I even had ‘hanging out with my brother and friends’ and ‘going shopping with my mum’. Doesn’t seem very helpful but with time, I saw that I was a people person. I love to communicate and meet new people.
I looked though my list of strengths for similarities in some of my points and then got to the internet to search. I love creativity and innovation and so I typed that in with ‘career’ at the end, loads came up, especially university course pages. I began reading on the similar courses, matching my interests with them.
- The internet is one of the best things to happen to us. Research courses and read what they are about. It helps.
Search the internet like I did and just read about different units, the components that make up each degree. You’ll see that as you read, you might get excited reading about certain courses and for others you’ll simply think: “nope”. As you progress through these stages, your list keeps reducing.
When I was done, I knew what I was interested in. All the things I enjoyed doing matched technology courses and after thinking about my future, I found out that I didn’t mind using my communication skills to inform people of ways they could use technology to solve their problems and further using my problem solving skills to write code that could solve issues easily. I did some more research about technology courses, asked around people studying similar courses and also spoke to people who knew me well.
- Make contact with people who may already be working in the field you’re interested in,
Talk to people already in the line of work you’re interested in and aim to get a better understanding of what they do. That goes a long way in giving you an idea of the kind of thing you could be exposed to after you graduate.
By now, just 2 courses appealed to me and after speaking to people in similar fields, I was able to make my choice to study software engineering.
Now, there’s no rule that says this is exactly what you have to do to find out how to choose a course but the majority of the points here are very critical to your final decision on what course you’ll do.
University is an amazing journey and when you’re done with this decision, I bet that you’ll be ready to tackle any other decisions that’ll come your way.
By Rubie Targema-Takema