How to decide what university course to apply?

Completed SPM, STPM, A' Level, Ausmat, SAM, ICPU or other equivalent pre-university examinations? Waiting for your results to be released then lodge a university application. So, have you decided what course to apply for?

I’ve written some useful tips which maybe able to assist you in deciding the best course which suits you the most. Most likely you have 3-6 months of waiting period before the admission date, so might as well allocate some time to figure out what you want to do for the next 30-40 years.

1. Understand Yourself
- No one understands you better than yourself. Identify your strengths, weaknesses and personality. Write them down. Sometimes it maybe hard for us to identify our weakness as most of us are too afraid to admit them and we have the tendency to overestimate our strength. So, you may need help in this. Talk to the school counselor. There are simple to do but comprehensive personality tests which they can provide and help you analyze the results. The results often come with a long list of recommended careers.

2. Identify the Relevant Careers
- List out the careers which you think you may want to venture into. List them based on your interest and passion. Try to be realistic; no point putting: King, Queen, Handsome Prince, Pretty Princess, right?! Hehe…

3. Research on the Careers
- Find out things related to the career. What is the work about? What the people have to do? What kind of qualifications it requires? Where do the people work? How is the salary and working hours like? And most importantly the personalities required by the career, as in good communication skills, out-going, love to travel, very meticulous, etc. Internet is a good source for such information. Magazines like DoctorJob is also helpful.

4. Going the Extra Miles
- Reading the job articles may not really give you a clear vision of what the job is like in reality, as different individuals may describe differently as their personalities are different. Try to approach people who are already in the field. Talk to relatives, friends, teachers or lecturers who know the work. It would be even better if you can experience it yourself.
- For example, if you want to become a teacher, try working at a tuition centre or in a government school as a temporary teacher. If you want to become a dentist, try working as a dentist assistant, etc. All these work do come with a pay even though it’s not much. Let’s not bother about that too much, but concentrate on gaining valuable experience and information regarding the career which you will be in for the next 30-40 years. You seriously don’t want to be doing something which you have no interest for so long, right?

5. Where to Study?
- Once you have decided. Then, it’s time to find out which institutions offer the course (local or overseas), what are the qualifications required (is your pre-U exam recognized, how many A’s they require, do you need any specific language proficiency test such as IELTS, TOEFL), how much is the fee (tuition fee, living expenses, etc) and if you require financial aids (scholarship, study loan, bursaries, etc), are there any available? Is the degree from the university recognized by our government and regulatory bodies? Which university provides the best education experience for that course?

6. Lodge the Application
- Find out how to apply. Can you download the application form from websites or you need to buy it from the institution or obtain from designated university representatives? Is there any application fees required, how much is refundable if you decide not to go to that particular institution (sometimes they refund a portion of it, but not all)? What are the documents required? Remember to certify all the documents at your school. Is a separate application required for financial aids? Do you submit the application forms directly to the universities or through representatives? Which are the reliable representatives?
- Note: If you are applying for an overseas university, you will most probably have to submit your applications through their international offices or designated representatives or education agents. Please be extra careful when seeking services from education agents. There are reports of some unscrupulous ones which may try to cheat your money. Go for reputable ones.

7. Making the Choice
- Normally, you would make a few applications to a particular course or maybe different courses (if you haven’t decided which you prefer) at a few different universities. If you applied for different courses, then it’s time for you to go back to step 2, 3 and 4. Identify which course suits you the most. Recall the experience you have working in the field.
- If you applied for the same course at different universities, then you will need to take a few aspects into consideration: the tuition fees (which is cheaper), the living expenses (certain places have very high living cost), distance (do you wish to return home often), quality of education (does the university provide good quality education as in sufficient facilities and experienced lecturers), financial aids (which provides better scholarships, etc).

8. Going on Your New Journey
- When all have been decided, then prepare for your journey in the new stage of your life.

All the best…

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