Every year, thousands of students make the difficult choice of choosing which university to go to and what to study. These are 3 guiding questions that can help to inform your choice.
1. What is your end goal?
The brand name of the university and the course are both important. However, if faced with the choice of one or the other, it would come down to your end goal.
Specific professional industries like medicine or law will require you to undertake the right degree. The school is of less importance (note: please check if the university is recognized under Singapore requirements for incumbent doctors and lawyers). For certain competitive industries, having an Ivy League degree will really help to open doors.
For jobs that accept a varied background, it may be worth it to spring for the brand-name university. In addition, it is not uncommon (especially for overseas universities) to allow you to change your course (or at least adopt a minor) if you do well. This will then allow you to get both the university you want and the relevant course.
A good indicator of which university is right for you is to see where alumni tends to end up. Are they able to secure the kind of jobs that you want easily? Look at your dream companies and the profiles of the employees. Which schools did they graduate from? Which course did they take?
2. Try out an internship
It is very common for undergraduates to be confused about what kind of career path they want to pursue. Imagined and idealized careers may often be very different in reality. Before you set your mind on any particular specialized degree, it would be wise to apply for an internship to get a taste of whether this is something you actually want.
Borrow a textbook from the course and take a look at whether the material interests you. Talk to someone who works in the industry. Help yourself now and you will save the time, energy and cost of changing your degree midway later.
3. Overseas experience
For many, the hard decision is often whether to shell out the money to go to an overseas university. Once again, a cost-benefit analysis is necessary with your long-term career goals in mind. Certain industries favour overseas graduates not only because of the brand name of the university, but because studying overseas helps to shape more independent and worldly graduates with an international outlook.
That being said, there is equal opportunity for local graduates to enjoy the perks of the overseas experience (with less of the cost). Most local universities offer exchange programmes, and you can always apply for summer schools or internships abroad on your own initiative. Employers recognize all of these valuable experiences and we would encourage all students to take full advantage of the various programmes that their schools offer. Increasingly, there are tie-ups with local universities and overseas universities to get a 2-in-1 undergraduate and masters degree or double degree. These are competitive options that you should consider as well.
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