What will your life be like once you enter the program of your choice? Regardless of whether
your university is in the US, Canada, or Singapore, your four-year college experience will
span approximately eight semesters with three summers in between. You will most likely be
following a credit system with a specified number of hours of credit for graduation.
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Most countries will give you the flexibility to study in a general first-year pool before
declaring your major in the second year. Then comes the core classes for your chosen major.
So if you have opted for an Economics major you will be looking forward to several classes of
Economics over three years. However, your major aside you will have the opportunity to
explore several other subjects as electives.
Here’s how you can maximize your college experience:
- Effort-estimation before effort
While the idea of a double majors and an eclectic batch of minors is inherently appealing,
time is a precious commodity in college. Your future employer will simply focus on your academic performance
- Be clear about your major
Why you want to pursue a specific major should be clear to you both from the perspective of your professional goals and future career path. What kind of job profile am I looking for after graduating? Will I be targeting a further Master’s or PhD program? Use your first year to gain clarity about the major you are intending to pursue. Speak to seniors and alum who
have progressed further on the path you have chalked out for yourself.
- Travel to the future, come back to the present
If you are an international student, be clear about where you want to be four years later in terms of employment and work backwards to the present. Be honest about your true interests while also being aware of the fact that in the US, students with STEM degrees get an additional two years of work authorization while for most humanities majors a one-year work authorization is the norm.
- Never give up on your dreams
If your dream is a degree in postcolonial studies, for example, you should not let only labour market considerations sway your decision about a major. Remember that if you are doing something you are truly interested in, you will be likely to be the best version of yourself in that field and possibly be competitive. That translates to an increased chance of success and happiness in the long term.
- Be grateful, be responsible
Remember that you will be in charge of your own schedule and performance once in a new country. You will not be able to depend on the voice of reason that your parents might have been during your school days. You will have to become responsible not just for your academic performance and schedule but also develop healthy spending habits. Honest and detailed communication with your parents about your expenses will help you create a budget for yourself and plan your campus and social activities to the fullest.
- Utilize available resources
From the writing, centre to perfect your academic writing to psychological services on campus to health services and clinics, become aware of all the facilities on campus and never hesitate to avail of them. Not that you will be utilizing all resources actively for your physical and mental well-being. Legal services for example will not be something you will likely have a brush with unless you are charged with plagiarism (the writing centre will teach you how not to plagiarize).
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