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Study Abroad - The Hard Choice of Choosing the Right Course

Last week we looked at how to choose the college and this week let's move on to the next stop, choosing the course to study. After all, the major goal for your abroad journey is to land your dream job and your choice of course can make or break that dream.
Most students commit the cardinal sin of following the herd when it comes to choosing a course. We seem to rely on the experiences of our seniors or those we deem are successful. Feedback from people who have been there and done that is one piece of information that helps in making an informed choice; however, it cannot be the only one. By doing this, we tend to ignore the up-coming trends in various sectors. Remember that in a fast changing world what was previously successful won't stay that way forever in to the future. Keep in mind that times are changing and so are employment trends and industry requirements.

Your choice of course should reflect your passion as well as the future prospects. The path to a successful career starts here - find the right course, at the right university or college, and you improve your chances of success.

In today's article, let us look at how does once choose the right course? Simple Answer - Ask the right questions!

Why do you want to pursue a higher degree? (In case you are applying for Masters or Doctoral Programs)
The most important consideration is asking yourself the need for pursuing additional degree. If you want to build upon your existing skill set, then you should choose a course in a subject where there is a natural progression of your existing skills and qualifications. For example, if you have completed your graduation in Civil Engineering and would want to further build upon that, you could go for specialization in to specific areas like Structural Engineering within that ambit.

Choice of course at this juncture could also give you an opportunity to get in to areas that lie in the intersection of your chosen area and the technological advancements- i.e., A mechanical engineer opting for a course focusing on Mechatronics. Some of you might also want to pursue an additional degree to accelerate your career prospects. In these scenarios, select a course that is in line with your work experience and has a clear career path after completion.

In summary, while choosing the course, make sure you are clear about the thought process behind your decision. Consider your existing experience, skill set, prospective career and employment opportunities alongside subjects that you are passionate about.

What are the three important factors that you would base your choice upon?
While you are researching, you’ll come up with all kinds of different criteria to judge a university or course by. So make a shortlist of the top three features you’re looking for. These could be school ranking or prestige, research facilities, practical experience and internships, cost of tuition, student support services, safety, social life, chance to travel… there are so many variables, and what’s right for you could be completely wrong for someone else. This is probably the toughest part of the decision making process and speaking to external consultants or acquaintances could help you clear your mind about what you want.

Are the courses affordable? Are you eligible for the course?
Now that you've understood the path you want to go, stop a minute and ponder over how realistic it is. Check the affordability and the eligibility factors. Look for the exams that you need to give to be eligible for the course. Check out the course requirements - do they have any minimum score you need to achieve to be considered eligible? The duration of the course is also a parameter that you need to consider.

Courses, in general, can be classified into two varieties - those which are traditionally preferred with set career paths and prospects, and those which hold future promise. Do not ignore the latter but do your due diligence to find out as much as you can about the course, the requirements and the future prospects.

Have you researched about the course?
Narrow down your options into about five realistic ones, the practical choices. This takes a lot of time and research. Glossy prospectus and fancy infrastructure don't always tell you the whole story. Start by looking at the University website to know more about the course. Talk to people you know who have studied in the country or city to really know what it is like. Find out in depth about the focus of the course - certain courses could end up heavy on quantitative skills or programming skills and make sure you are comfortable with this focus.

What are the career prospects the course offers?
Studying overseas can be expensive but it is also an investment in your future. And that means your career and your earning potential. How does successfully completing the course boost your prospects of finding a good job? Is the course accepted by the industry? Does the course comprise sessions on industry interaction or projects that provide you with corporate exposure? Alumni of the course - where did they find employment? Finding out answers to these is crucial to your choice of a good course. Find out where other international students at that university have worked after graduation, and if there’s an active alumni network, as they help improve the prospects of a great job.

Know in and out about the course - with focus on details
These days, every subject has so many different specializations and course offered by Universities also mirror these choices. Multi-disciplinary courses spanning across a range of subjects and offered by different departments (schools) within the University have also become common place. Choice is good but choosing from many closely related courses could become difficult if you are not aware of the details.

Therefore don’t limit yourself to just the regular study-options; dream big, think, analyze and finally choose the course that gives you happiness and of course, a great career!

Rama Sasank(IIM- Calcutta)
Chief Product Officer (Conduira Online)
Published date : 29 Dec 2018 01:30PM

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