Are you a high school student who sits for exam after exam intently in order to ace your SPM? Or, are you an SPM graduate who looks forward to the day your final results are out as you are dying to find out how you scored? Or, are you a pre-university student who aims to score in your finals? If you are one of the above, your result is not the only thing you should be freaking out, as there’s more to it. At least half of high school students, SPM graduates, and pre-university students face one common problem: Deciding on a college major. There are so many to choose from ranging from arts to literature to science to humanities. Some of you may not come cross such dilemma as you may have already come to a definite decision. Meanwhile, others are torn between one thing and another (perhaps even a dozen more of other things!
As a student or an SPM graduate, there are millions of things you need to consider when choosing a college major – which University, the fees, your results, and the list goes on. These things escalate from a simple consideration to an intense challenge when you end up not deciding on anything. This can happen due to the pressure of having to too many factors to consider coming all at once and you can’t decide just yet as your priority list is still all over the place. Now, here’s the 7 most common challenges students face when deciding on a college major:
1. Parents’ Wish
“Now while we’re all happily eating, just let me tell you that I expect doctors or engineers at least”
Let us all face it, every parents in the world wants the best for their child, probably with hopes of becoming a world-renowned doctor, an architect who designs the world’s tallest building or even a successful businessman who runs the family business. Yes, parents want the best for their children and this is what pressures students into second-guessing their future career. For Muslims, it is believed that a child is obliged to obey thier parents as long as it doesn’t go against the religion. Some people do exactly just that – obey their parents – and they turn out equally as great. But for others, they simply have the urge to accomplish their own dreams and goals which at most times, are at completely different ends from what their parents have in mind. So, are you one of these rebellious kind?
If what you want contradicts with that of your parents’ dream, it is alright. Communication is what keeps the family bond strong, therefore talk to your parents. It is better to express your desires in a polite way rather than to spend their money on something you were never invested in. Worst part in this is that there’s no winner in the end of the day so all the hard work and effort is all gone to waste. Not to mention who know what you would feel towards your parents in the near future for not living your dream but thiers instead. Do always keep in mind that your parents are the ones who brought you up and was the ones responsible for who you are right now, so their advises to you could be in fact the best for you, after all, they have been around way longer than you. But if you strongly hold to what you believe in, then speak up, communicate, rationalize with you parents, hear them out while they hear you too and who knows what other solutions may come out of it. Know that this is your life you are living, so make the most out of it in the way that satisfies you most.
2. Passion vs Skill
“Now I’m hoping these paintings can sell for millions.”
There are either too little or too many choices for us to choose from. One can love travelling which makes them feel captivated into being a pilot but due to unsatisfying academic results this could shatter the dreams away. Meanwhile, one can be really good in mathematics and accounting but, has zero passion in accounts management when that seems to be the best bet available. This can be seen quite frequent among students nowadays. How can you do something with passion but without skill, or to do something with full on skills but with absolutely no passion?
Our passion is what keeps us devoted to something, especially when it comes to a career. Without passion, one can barely last being happy on the job. What about skills? That matters, too. Without basic skills, it is hard operate in a field where certain know how technicalities are require, what more to adopt new advance complicated skills. But, you should remember that it is an innate ability that we continue to grow in our knowledge and skills where the learning curve never stops. A person can be good at multiple fields without himself even noticing. So, discover your potential! Make a list on things you are fascinated about and your skills. Do a lot of research on courses related to your list from different fields. Explore the career prospects and the chance to furthering your studies to a much higher level. You’ll be surprised to discover the great things you can do with those skills in addition to the passion you already have.
“It takes a lot to manage money, sort of like balancing money and a potato.”
Public or private institutions, they all burn a rather massive hole in your pocket. Some courses like medicine for instance, usually cost up to half a million or more, both in Malaysia and overseas. Don’t even get us started on other available courses out there. It’s a common saying today that, “The higher your dreams, the more you have to spend.” Still, great things are worth the investment, right? “But, I still can’t pay for such an expensive tuition fees!”, that’s probably what you’re going to ask next. This is where the habit of saving comes in handy, the advice your parents and teachers kept telling you about when you were kids. It is definitely advisable to begin saving at a very young age. In recent times, there are services that offer payroll deduction for employees who have children and opt for the service.
Parents are encouraged to do so to ensure their children will have sufficient savings for their future education needs. The earlier you save, the more money you would have amassed in the future. You can also work part-time jobs or start a small business during the school breaks and save your salary for future use. Not to forget everyone’s’ favorite – scholarships, loan and sponsorships! There are plenty of them out there ready to be handed out to deserving ones. You just have to apply, and I mean apply EVERYTHING regardless of your result. The more you apply, the higher the chance of you getting closer to your dream. If you think it’s worth the effort, then go for it.
“Except of course if your dream is to be Superman or Batman.”
As a teenager, you tend to care about almost everything in the world, especially expectations others have towards you. Everyone would expect a star student to sign up for ambitious courses like engineering, medicine, or law. Family and peer pressure is what influences one’s decision making especially just to avoid a negative reaction. When it comes to such situation, you have to remember that your passion matters. You should always motivate and remind yourself that your future is not going to be dictated by anyone else but you.
It is your future that is at stake and you are ultimately going to be responsible for any actions and decisions made to your future. Don’t let anyone steer your ship, be the captain of your own fleet. But then again, always know that you may not always be right and in fact, you may not necessarily know who you exactly are as you may still be in search of your true self. Do lots and lots of research before making a decision, be it a decision of your own or a decision to follow others. Seek advice from others if you need to, best that it comes from people who are close to you and that knows you best. When it comes down to the issue of pleasing the expectation of others, be very certain that your decision is decided because you want to, not because you have to. Be brave and make the decision that is best for you, remember, you have the final say.
5. Self-Confidence And Self-Esteem
“I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky.”
One can be extremely certain of being an architect with plans all firmed up and what to do after graduation but, is afraid of failing. One can also feel like they have all the skills required to be a journalist and is set to succeed in the industry but somehow doesn’t think highly of themselves and is inferior towards the job. Sounds all too familiar? Self-confidence and self-esteem are the two traits that takes you to great heights in anything you do in your life, however, not everyone has it. When it comes to the matter of one’s personality, it has to be nurtured. Some are born with it while others, have to earn it. Being confident and feeling good about yourself are very important factors to keep you positive and well-motivated in your life – education, work and social life. Training yourself to have high confidence and self-esteem takes time, it’s slowly but surely as long as you stay committed. Start small, spend time bonding with family and friends, know that you are well supported emotionally with a circle of close ones and that you are not alone.
Everything begins in the mind, know who you are and what you are capable of, know your strengths and weaknesses. You must first know how different and special you are and should leverage on your strengths. Interact more with others, learn how to carry yourself well and learn from others for your own benefit. Behave like someone of high confidence and self-esteem, play along with the idea for a while and in a matter of time, you will eventually get a hang of it and that’s when you see yourself growing in to it naturally. Everything begins in your mind, take control of your mind and you can be in control of everything else.
6. Career Opportunity
“Follow what is written on the blackboard for success. Success 101.”
A good career in the future can secure a stable life. We all have one chance at that one very moment when it comes to determining the path of our life and everything else we will live for in the future. Some, are lucky to be in the career that can assure them with a stable future, while others, are in rather aimless careers. Sure, you will come across predicaments about your career whether or not it is a field that can even provide you with a job in the future or not. When people start asking you what will you be doing after you graduate and start sharing the difficulties in landing a job in a particular degree, that is when you will begin second-guessing your decision.
What people tend to forget is that there are certain courses in certain fields because there are successful people doing perfectly well in that course itself, hence why it is developed for others. There are risks in every decision you make – the hardship in studying a course, the competition, the future opportunities, the limited career prospects. Hence, do more research and find out more about your own interest. You will be amazed on how far you can stretch your horizon when you get into the field of your choice. In anything in life, if you put in your biggest possible effort, rest assured your effort will not be in vain. There are always those successful few in any field of career that hits it big, be it a singer, athlete, doctor, teacher or an architect, so just be sure you put in the effort to be where the top few are and you will be set for life. Anything is possible.
“Let’s just keep today a simple one so we’re happy”
If you think you are passionate enough and full on motivated to your studies in University, guess what, there’s a lot of people out there equally as passionate as you are all waiting to score in their exams. So you may question yourself whether or not you should enroll yourself in a course with high competitive environment or one that is lesser. Regardless the course, university life is going to be filled with endless competition from your fellow students; some may score better in certain fields while you may be better in others. You may at times come across situations where you may doubt yourself because of the other students in your course that just seem to be able to get things done better and faster, be it coursework, projects or course assignments.
The honest truth is you are not the only one feeling that pressure, in fact that course mate that you are feeling competitive about may just be feeling the same way about you. Yes, everybody wants to be the best in the field but put it this way, University life isn’t a race to begin with. There is no first place, second, third or fourth at the end of the course. It’s either you graduate or you fail, and the best part is, the available space for graduating is a lot bigger than you think and so it the employment market. There are more than enough job openings in the market for fresh graduates especially in an emerging country such as Malaysia. So don’t get disappointed if you fail to score 100% in your first year paper, there’s still a long way to go and you have the time to make up for it before your final graduation exams. University is where you groom your skills for the future and the future doesn’t just look for academics, but also on other skills such as emotional and people skill. Be confident of yourself and keep motivated to achieving your goal and to improve yourself for the better. Your love for your ambition will drive you places and make you do things you never thought you are capable of.
Challenges are brought upon us for a reason and there will always be a solution to everything if we focus hard enough to attaining it. If you find yourself stuck in a situation where you feel like you are out of options, remember that it is not the end of the world, deal with it, and make sure you are up on your two feet again. “Follow your dreams,” people would say, and they, are right. All you have to do is to put in as much effort as you possibly can and God will do the rest. If you do not happen to make the cut, it is probably because you are meant to be great at something else instead which you do not know just yet. So, face your challenges and do your best to conquer it, don’t give in so easily because success comes to those who persist.
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