How to Choose a Major for Your College Education?

Due to the increasing number of universities all over the world, the process of making the right choice has become complicated. Not only do you have to decide which major to do, program rankings, scholarships, future visa prospects and career opportunities. Along with this a lot of students consider other factors such as, lifestyles, part time work opportunities, culture, etc. 

The Student’s Guide to Choosing a Major

With years of experience we at FES have compiled a list of factors that most of our clients have asked questions about. Below are some of the factors students consider before deciding which major and university to go to. 

Cost: Given the current state of the economy and the exchange rate in Pakistan, going abroad has become a costly affair. Not only do you have to look at tuition fees of the major, and the possibility of scholarships.

Future prospects: A lot of students think about whether or not the desired major provides work opportunities and visas after their degree. This is a very important factor to consider when making decisions regarding the major you want to study.

Admission policy: A lot of students applying for foreign universities consider admission policies for companies extremely important. A lot of students prefer degrees where the admission policies are easy and convenient.

English language: Does the degree require an English proficiency test? A lot of the degrees have waivers as well but some don’t. Students also have to check whether or not the degree is being offered in English or the native language? These sorts of questions do pop into a students mind when deciding what to study. 

Part time work: given the poor economic situation and unhealthy purchasing power of most Pakistani households it is difficult to sustain a comfortable lifestyle for many students. Therefore, a lot of students rely on part time work, in order to pay for their living expenses. They do tend to look for degrees which would allow them to tackle course, attendance and give them time to work as well.  

These are just some of the factors which students think about. 

How to decide which major to study?
What do you want to study?:

There is no harm in thinking about a variety of majors. Afterall studying abroad is not just about the university but also about how exciting, educational, and enthralling the entire experience is going to be. Selecting your major is going to be a major aspect of this entire experience. Make sure you really think about what you want to do.  There is no point in going to a great university and studying something you are not interested in. Something that does not add value to your future.This is why you need to make sure you pick the right major and make sure you pick the write field of study that is not only relevant

Identifying which subject or field you plan on specialising will help you narrow down your list of options. Certain countries are renowned for their expertise in particular fields and industries. Target the degree which you think is going to add the most value to your field of study.

What are career opportunities like?:

Whether or not you plan to stay in the host country permanently or temporarily it is vital that you assess the career prospects of your future qualifications. If you are planning to stay there permanently then this is extremely important, but do it for a moment and think this aspect is not important for temporary residence plans. You need to ensure the degree you want to enrol in has decent career prospects during and after the graduation. This will give you a chance to gain vital industry experience through entry level jobs and in many cases internships. Best way to judge this is to check the job websites of the country. Search for an entry level job in your particular field. You will get to see the number of vacancies which will give you an idea of your prospects.

What languages are spoken in the host country?:

There are plenty of English degrees being offered in universities from non-English speaking nations. This is a major factor that has to be assessed by the student. If the country you are targeting is not an English speaking destination then you will face issues with landing a long term job, integrating culturally and even doing simple tasks such as ordering food at a restaurant. This is why it is important to consider the language of the host country. 

What are the costs?:

A lot of Pakistani students are sold on the idea that they can pay for the tuition fees by earning in foreign countries. Even though this is possible in most countries, a person should still plan the budget aspect in such a way where they can actually pay for the degree or arrange some funds from home if needed. A lot of international students suffered when they could not pay for their living expenses due to the lockdowns. This is why it is necessary to establish a budget. We at FES help our clients find the right place according to their budget.

Once you have decided on the degree, then comes the time to research which university would offer that degree to you in the most feasible manner. 

How to choose which university to study in?

Identify your interests and passion: A lot of the time students try to formulate the best logical plan they can find. However, a major problem with this is they tend to forget that degrees last for more than a year. This is why it is vital to identify a field you are interested in. Subject of study that you think is going to provide you with the most intrinsic motivation. All this is necessary so you do not end up facing failures or bad grades which can cause a lot of problems when looking for quality jobs. 

3.  Research carefully, and use multiple sources: Studying a degree can take anywhere between one to four years, and it can be quite expensive. It will almost certainly be a worthwhile investment and life-changing adventure, but make sure you know the facts. Even though we at FES specialise in helping students lead through our guidance, we still recommend the student does his/her own research as well. Reason being this will allow you to ask the right questions when it comes to deciding on a consultant, or determining whether or not someone’s advice is worthwhile or not.

4.  Identify your “essential” requirements: Narrow down your search by deciding what you definitely want to do or want to avoid. For example, maybe you only want to study abroad at a university where the tuition fees are affordable, or the universities offer degrees for certain duratns which may allow you to apply for temporary work visas. 

Here are some examples students usually consider:
  • Only universities in a particular country/ world region
  • No universities in rural towns cities
  • Only highly ranked universities (in general or in a particular subject)

This step is particularly useful if you want to study a subject that is offered across a very large range of universities.

  1. Choose your subject: Many people know straight away what they want to study, but for some the choice is less obvious. It would be wise to narrow down to a list of three or so subjects. If you’re having a hard time with that, think about these questions:
  • Which subjects do you most enjoy learning about?
  • What skills do you want to gain during your studies?
  • Do you want to go into a job where a particular degree is required?

If you already know what you want to study, then great! By default some universities will be ruled out (even the most popular subjects aren’t available absolutely everywhere), but more importantly you’ll be able to select your preferred universities based on the courses and curricula they offer.

  1. Attend university fairs and open days: Choosing a university abroad that’s perfect for you will require a lot of research. For international students, most of this is often done online or through university brochures. However, the best option is always to see a place for yourself, and/or talk to a representative from the university in person, so you can get a better feel for the institution and get answers to all your questions

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