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With the rise of flexible, almost-DIY college programs, it is even harder for students to determine the right program – it’s a needle in a haystack! And despite the popularity of unconventional paths to success, we are still seeing a good number of people pursuing university degrees – over 40% in OECD countries. In Australia, the number of adults with postgraduate degrees has grown 46% since 2011. There are over 4000 higher education institutions in the U.S. alone.
Your career trajectory will be heavily influenced by the prestige of the college of your choice and the concentration or major. So choosing the college program now requires a bit of thinking beyond a few horizons to ensure your long-term success. It doesn’t mean that the course of your life hinges only on the decision you make today at the age of 17. It just means that you want to think beyond what interests you now.
1. Think beyond your primary concentration
You have to think about potential career options you may want to pursue. Consider the careers that should be on your radar – what are the types of specialisation paths available? What industries may be relevant?
Then evaluate whether the college programs in consideration have supplementary courses within the broader umbrella to give you options of specialisation should you be interested. For instance, within Marketing, there are social media or digital marketing specialisation pathways you could pursue. You want to ensure that your CV background is appealing to a broad stroke of future employers that you may be interested in.
So the flexibility and range of curriculums each program offers should be carefully appraised.
2. Evaluate their extracurriculars
Your recruiting efforts begin way before your graduation. Consider the extracurriculars of each program as they will give you opportunities to stand out in front of recruiters. Extracurriculars are not just sports. Consulting clubs, business fraternities, etc. Oftentimes, large corporations will partner with nation-wide clubs to host competitions and challenges that give you opportunities to be on their radar.
Showing that you are well-rounded is key to your success no matter what stage you are in your life. Anything that you excel in and you can demonstrate your superior abilities over your peers gives you an incredible leg up. Ensure that your programs offer a wide range of these opportunities!
3. Check out their study abroad programs
Nowadays, even a small liberal college offers study abroad programs in partnership with some other institutions in other parts of the world. Study abroad programs are critical as more and more employers value global experience. They want people who have stepped outside their comfort zones even if it’s for one semester.
It’s an added bonus if the study abroad programs include some type of work provisions as any type of global work experience helps your CV stand out. And most importantly, study abroad programs are incredibly fun!
4. The faculty matters more than you think
Many prestigious colleges will hire professors from each pertinent field. This means that you have access to influential figures in the industry of your choice. You may be able to tap into their network when it comes time for job hunting if you play your cards right.
Obviously, who you learn from matters. You want to make sure you are learning from the best. It also matters because they can give you practical advice on the firms worth pursuing, pros and cons about the industry, and how to set your career trajectory straight. They are well-respected figures in the field and can help you mentor and groom you. Make sure to look up the faculty members of the programs in consideration before making your commitment.
5. Consider the location of the campus
While most campuses tend to be slightly out of the city, many campuses will choose strategic locations to ensure some level of proximity to relevant metro hubs. If you are in an International Diplomacy program, it’s best if the campus is situated somewhat close to an embassy or any other meaningful location nearby. This allows internship or apprenticeship opportunities as well as the ability to have well-renowned players visit for various types of engagements.
What about the environment for your happiness for at least 4 years? Whether you enjoy your surroundings will have an inevitable and explicit impact on your performance. So make sure to check out the campus and see if it suits the college life you fantasize about.