So many universities and loads of factors to weigh against each other in the search for that combination which balances all of them out: finances, accommodation, location, cost of living, family pressures, desired country to settle in after the education, desired career stream based on aptitude and what not. Under the immense pressure that this generates, it is very easy to tend to sideline the one essential factor in consideration for other factors, that don’t require you to invest much time and energy in research. However, many people let this become the single biggest mistake of their career that they make before it even begins, as they look back decades later to wonder if their life would have been happier if they had made a different decision.
What is required on part of the individual student is a genuine exploration of their skills and capabilities and the corresponding career options that are available to utilize them. This will lead to sustainable satisfaction because, in the best case scenario, you make lots of money because you are proficient at what you do and in the worst case scenario, you do what you love and being unable to live a luxurious life does not matter because you are still happy. The result of unwise university decisions culminates itself in the form of wasted potential; a person with a poor understanding of abstract concepts but excellent social skills and emotional intelligence will only lag behind in the mechanical engineering field, as opposed to, say the business field.
Decide upon a career stream before your degree
The process should start by having an honest conversation with yourself about what your strengths and weaknesses are. We, at My Career Dreams, offer a career compatibility test that can help you figure out what career stream you should head towards. You can get started here.
You need to make sure that your university decision is made by yourself and for yourself. Entering the influence of anyone else into this equation may lead to regret down the line. The choice of universities then should only include those that offer a degree in the career stream. Any university that does not offer a degree in the stream should be checked off the long list of universities you plan to do research about. When you imagine what role the university will play in your life, don’t just look at the 4-5 years of the degree’s duration but also the 50 years after its completion.
Not everyone is privileged enough to afford a university, much less a decent one. So it is only sensible for you to ensure that your degree is worthwhile. The payback period is the length of time required to recoup the initial investment. Think of your degree as an investment into accumulating human capital that enables you to earn future income (in the form of a salary). Ideally, the cumulative income that you earn throughout your life after the completion of your degree should not only cover the costs you incurred to attain that education but go beyond that to reward you for the intellectual effort you expend in your work. The greater the cumulative income, the shorter the payback period.
It should be clarified that income may not be the only factor, much less the most important one. For some occupations, the dividends in the form of satisfaction from doing noble work for something greater than one’s self may enable one to overlook the low income. By all means, individuals in such fields have every right to be satisfied but this too is a factor that you need to consider before embarking on the university selection process.
To make the university selection process one that is holistic, rather than hollow, you need to broaden your perspective to look at the longer term and adopt a career-oriented approach.