Sunday, 13 January 2013

LIFE OVERSEAS: Do not regret your choices

THE FUTURE: On the brink of entering university, the writer ponders multifarious questions

PLANNING takes place at every stage of our lives. For couples in love, organising a wedding is the next big step. For newly-weds, family planning takes priority. For soon-to-be secondary school-leavers like me, choosing the right university programme tops the list.
Posters of open days at different colleges are pasted all over my school in Ireland. Teachers frequently ask: “So, what do you intend to pursue after school?” Parents sit you down and ask the dreaded question: “What are you going to do with your life?”
I visited three universities in Ireland — Trinity College Dublin, University of Cork and University of Limerick. Each tertiary institution has its advantages and disadvantages with regard to location, programme content and duration.
I attended talks on courses that I was interested in — a mix of Business, Psychology and Sociology. Some speakers were passionate, whereas others had disinterest written all over their faces.
I walked through the halls, gardens and campus grounds, and wondered if I would enjoy spending four years there.
Trinity College Dublin stood out among the rest.
Attending university seemed a far-off pursuit till my teacher told me that I had to submit my applications soon.
Selecting a tertiary course is an extremely intricate matter. Many people do not realise the importance of choosing their future path. Some opt for a course that sounds relatively interesting without fully scrutinising it.
On the other hand, there are those who are forced by their parents to pursue a programme which they are not keen on but brings in the money.
My sister, who completed her degree in Medicine a few years ago, told me several of her classmates did not have a say in their choice of a career. That resulted in a number of dropouts throughout the course due to lack of interest or the inability to cope with its demands.
After hearing such tales, it is rather daunting to pick one from the many courses available. What if you detest the modules once you begin your freshman year? Or you love your studies but job opportunities do not come easy? And what if your examination results do not meet the requirements of your intended course?
Also, there are many factors to take into account. For instance, money is always an issue. University fees escalate every year and the cost of accommodation, travel and food is also on the rise.
Scholarships are highly sought-after. I was raised to study hard to win a scholarship, be it full or partial. In Ireland, there is an array of study aid for those who excel in sport or who are from underprivileged families. But there is only a handful of scholarships based solely on academic excellence and tied to household income.
So, do research, select your course wisely and, most importantly, do not regret your choices.

The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland. She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart

Read more: LIFE OVERSEAS: Do not regret your choices - You - New Straits Times

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