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5 nuggets of wisdom I wished I knew before leaving for college / university

""Help! I don't know what to study!""
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“Wah, ah girl! So fast grow up already ah? So, what do you plan to do in uni?”

As a freshie right out of high school, you’d probably heard this phrase thrown your way umpteen times. And as if almost by pure instinct, your eyes roll upwards until it shows nothing but white whenever relatives badger you about your study plans.

Struggles of deciding college and university
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Believe me, I know. When I was that age, I remember going through the struggles of deciding my next step of action. There was such an overwhelming variety of institutions offering various courses and qualifications that I didn’t know which I should take.

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Needless to say, I was like a ship drifting off into uncharted waters – lost, confused, and going around in aimless circles.

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As much as we Malaysians like to call our neighbouring country ‘kia su’ (Sorry Singapore. We still love you!), we ourselves often fall victim to this fierce spirit of competitiveness. Combine that with our Asian culture of ‘jump first, ask questions later’, it’s almost guaranteed to result in a mix of wrong decisions and burnout.

Why do I say this? It’s because this was what happened to me upon leaving high school, where I’m now stuck with a degree that I never really wanted and regretting over my study path.

But, the good news is that you don’t have to repeat the same mistakes. Here are some of the pieces of advice I wished I had before enrolling into college and university.

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1. Take your time

Let’s be real. Edging out our peers and scoring the highest grades is part of our Asian DNA whether we like to admit it or not. As such, it’s common for our parents to push us into getting a diploma/degree straightaway or give us the frown whenever we request for some ‘time off’.

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However, rushing into college or university just for the sake of pleasing our parents can be mentally and physically torturous as you’re forcing yourself to study something you never had passion for.

Hence, take your time and think it through. Do some soul searching and fully discover your interests because the last thing you’d want is to slave away at a corporate job with a qualification you secretly hate.

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2. Talk to your parents

This may be a hard pill for most to swallow but having a heart-to-heart conversation with our parents can greatly help us in making an informed decision over our career path.

Before you embark on your soul-searching journey, inform your parents about your decision, and explain to them that it’s important for them to give you time and space to mull over your future. After all, this is your future, not theirs.

Talk to your parents about your decision
Image via: Canva

If you’re in need of a break before resuming your studies, give them a time frame and make a commitment to stick to it. Also, update them constantly about your progress so they will be more at ease knowing that you are doing something.

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3. Do your research

We often tout Google as the ultimate saviour but bear in mind that not even Google can decide your future for you!

If you’re still unsure over what course to take, we’d highly recommend you to attend education fairs. They are a great way to see what various universities offer and gain some perspective into prospective careers paths. Looking to study beyond your backyard? Make sure to check if the program is recognised by institutions overseas.

Attending education fairs to get a perspective on future studies
Image via: TheStar

Also, don’t be afraid to pepper the advisors with questions. Yes, you may sound annoying, but this may be the only opportunity in getting to know more about the course you’re interested in.

4. Engage with education counsellors

Nothing attracts us Asians more than free stuff and you’ll be glad to hear that the services offered by education counsellors are completely free of charge too!

Getting advice on college and university
Image via: AUG

Organisations such as AUG, InterStudy, etc. offer reliable and professional advice on furthering your studies abroad and locally and have a team of qualified education counsellors that can advise and guide you to to institutions or universities that suits your interests best.

5. Explore your interests

Too many interests and not sure which to settle for? It is essential that you take the initiative in exploring your interest as you wouldn’t want to waste your time and your parents’ savings in getting a degree that you despise.

Don't be afraid to explore your interest
Image via: Canva

Read extensively about potential courses. Watch tutorials or even sign up for educational camps that offer professional advice for students looking to carve out their future. That way, you’ll have a better understanding of your options and smoothen your choosing of a study path.

EDMAT-43

Well, well, well, speaking of camps, EDMAT from the University of Malaya (UM) will be organising an online 3-day international engineering camp jam-packed with activities.

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Ranging from hackathons to interactive games and even industrial talks and visits, the camp is also open to non-engineering undergraduates!

Whether you’re an aspiring engineer or not, don’t hesitate to sign up and join in the fun! As they always say, “Belum try, belum tau!” Check out the details below to know more:

Edmat-43 early bird registration

Interested? You can sign up here!

Don’t forget to follow EDMAT on their social media pages for more information✨

Facebook, Instagram, Weebly and LinkedIn

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Cover Images via: Canva

Editor: Sarah Yeoh