Archive | June, 2017

Choosing a college when you don’t know what you want to be or study

24 Jun

This topic is tough one and very common. I honestly did not really know what to major at college before starting my freshman year at University of Washington. People in this category might be thinking “I will figure out what I want to study while I am in college.” If this sounds like you, ask yourself and/or research the followings:
1. What do you like doing even you don’t get paid?
2. What is your strength? For example, are you good at analyzing large amount of data? Are you good at interacting with people? Your strength is something it comes out from you naturally without much effort.
3. What kind of jobs are there using your skills and passions? If a college major of your interest does not have any practical use in the real world, you might want to rethink of the study field.
4. What potential earnings do these jobs give you? Money is not everything but financial independence will give you more freedom.

O.K., some of you might say, “I love singing.” Or “I like playing a basketball.” I personally love playing the piano and wanted to be a pianist. These are great passions but I must tell you that there are no middle class for art, entertainment, music, and sport fields. I do not want you to lose your dream but I want you to think what you can do with your skills to earn a decent income. Passion and dream alone is not enough. Unfortunately the most of us are not the top performers. So if you want to study singing at college, think of what other skills you can acquire at college and use all skills to market yourself in the real world. For example, if you earn English and music degrees at college, then you might be able to market yourself as a music writer for music magazine or website.

Passion alone is not enough; job marketability alone worn you out later. Ask yourself what you love to do and then how you could apply your passion and college degree for your future.

How to decide which college you will attend?

17 Jun

If you know why you want to go to college and what you want to study, your college choice could be narrowed down in your favor. More specific goal you have, you will find the appropriate schools. For example, my cousin had a dad who became terminally ill while she was in high-school. She wanted to help sick and injured people so she picked a nursing school and became a registered nurse. Knowing what you want to be and how and what college degree helps achieving your goal is the most important. If you know what you want, Congratulations! Research which school has the specific study field and program. School website will tell you the curriculums and expertise of each faculty member.

The second step is writing down the cost of schools you have in mind. They should include:

  • Tuition – most likely the biggest cost
  • Books – surprisingly huge burden if you don’t shop around! Reading assignments from professors are usually overpriced books written by the professors. These books do not have much value in real world after you are done with school. So do not buy a new textbook!
  • Facility fee or any school fee – For example, some schools charge students separate lab fee, technology fee depending on major or type of classes apart from the tuition. These fees are academic version of overweight baggage fee of airline.
  • Room and board (or dorm cost) – usually you can save money by living off campus with lot of students and cook yourself. Dorm is expensive and noisy. If you are not required to live in a dorm, find an inexpensive place and share with your friends.
  • Transportation – Find out if you can get around from/to campus with public transportation and the cost. Some colleges provide free bus to/from, or around campus; some give students deeply discounted bus passes. Also you may want to go home during a holiday season. Know what the round trip cost to see your folks.

If you or your family has abundant wealth, or you receive enough scholarship to cover the college expenses, go to the college of your choice. But if you can’t afford it, the cost of attending college must be the top criterion.

After identifying and evaluating these two things – college curriculums and the cost, you might want to research weather, alumni, neighborhood atmosphere, crime rate, student organizations, and other amenities.

In summary,
1. Figure out what you want to be,
2. Identify how to reach the goal (which school has a program you need), and
3. Find out the total cost to achieve the goal.

Knowing what you want to be is a critical question for your future. But I understand at age 18, or even some grown-up folks, “what do I wanna be when I grow up?” is a confusing question. I didn’t’ know the answer when I was 18. In the next blog I will talk about how to pick a college if you don’t have a clear idea what you want to become or study but you want to go to college anyway.