The two things from your education journey that stay with you throughout your life are your institution and specialization. You carry your institute’s legacy with you as you enter the workforce - it is a part of your identity. It is, therefore, crucial to pick an institution with a good reputation and quality education.
Moreover, the career paths and opportunities that open up to you depend greatly on your specialization. Do you want to become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or something else? The list of specializations is long, and it can be tough to pick one.
Since you’ll be spending 30-40 years of your life working, choosing a field you’re passionate about is essential.
If you’re mind-boggled about how to approach this decision, here are a few tips that might help you:
1. Where Do Your Interests Lie?
The most crucial step is to unearth and determine your interests. What are the things you’re passionate about and would happily pursue for the rest of your professional life? If you can identify your interests, it’ll be easier to find a specialization that aligns with them.
For instance, if you’re interested in fashion, you could specialize in fashion design or merchandising. If you’re interested in history, you could specialize in becoming a historian or an archaeologist.
Sometimes, our interests go beyond our skillset, and we wish to address areas that make us feel a part of the bigger picture. Safety management, for instance, is a field where you can make a difference in the lives of others. You could study public transportation safety issues, work in emergency management, or even help reduce crime rates.
2. Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Similar to having strengths, you probably have a weakness or two, and that’s perfectly normal. Besides, we all have our set of strengths and weaknesses. The key is to find a specialization that plays to your strengths.
For example, if you’re good with numbers and have an analytical mind, you could choose to become an accountant or an actuary. On the other hand, if you’re a people person and love working with children, you could become a teacher or a social worker.
There are many fields where your weaknesses won’t matter as much. For instance, if you’re not the best at public speaking, you could still become a writer.
But how to analyze your strengths and weaknesses? A good way to start is by taking a personality test. They’ll give you insight into your working style and help you find a good career fit.
3. The Job Market
The job market is constantly changing, and it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest trends. However, if you’re looking for stability, choosing a field that is less likely to be impacted by economic fluctuations might be good.
For instance, jobs in the healthcare and education sectors are usually not as susceptible to job losses during an economic downturn.
If you’re seeking a high-paying job, you could choose to become an engineer or a doctor. However, remember that these professions also require years of study and training.
Sometimes, the job market dictates our choices. If you’re struggling to land a stable job in your field, it might be time to consider a specialization change. You can also play safe and opt for generic specializations with a wide range of employment prospects. For instance, a degree in business administration or economics can lead to various careers.
4. Narrow Down Your Choices
Not every university offers the same specialization, and it’s essential to find an institution that is a good fit for you. Once you’ve shortlisted a few domains, you can look at universities that offer these programs.
You should also consider the university’s location and whether you’re comfortable living in that city or town. For instance, if you want to study astronomy or medicine, you might have to move to a big city with more job opportunities.
The living costs and tuition fees are also important factors to consider. Expect to pay higher tuition fees for programs that lead to high-paying jobs. Ensure to have a realistic idea of your finances before making any decisions.
Also, consider the learning environment you’re looking for to ensure you pick the right one. Do you wish for a small class size where you can get to know your professors? Or do you prefer a large lecture hall where you can remain anonymous?
5. What’s Your Past Work Experience?
Are you a grad student who is looking to change careers? Or are you a working professional who wants to move up the corporate ladder? Your past work experience can greatly impact your choice of specialization.
For instance, if you’re already working in marketing, you might want to consider pursuing a Master’s degree in marketing. It will help you gain the specialized knowledge and skills needed to advance your career.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to change careers, you might want to consider a master’s degree unrelated to your undergraduate degree. It will allow you to start fresh in a new field. The degree and work experience will be valuable when applying for various jobs. Some employers specifically look for candidates with a master’s degree in a particular field.
6. Consider All the Prerequisites
Before making any decisions, it’s important to ensure you meet all the prerequisites for the program. For instance, if you want to study astronomy, you must have completed an undergraduate degree in science.
Most importantly, ensure you have the required grades and test scores. Some programs are immensely competitive, and you might need a high GPA or score well on entrance exams.
GMAT, GRE, and MCAT are some entrance exams you might need to take, depending on the field you want to study. Most universities also require an IELTS or TOEFL score if you’re an international student.
Discuss the requirements with your academic advisor to ensure you’re on the right track. You may also be able to get a head start on your degree by taking some related courses in your final year of high school. For instance, if you’re interested in studying engineering, you can take some physics and math courses.
The decision of what specialization to pursue is a big one, and it’s important to take the time to research all your options. We suggest taking your time to assess your goals, interests, and skills.
Don’t forget to consult with your family and friends, as they might be able to offer some helpful advice. Also, speak to your academic advisor, as they can provide you with information about the different programs offered at your university.
Always pursue a specialization you’re passionate about, as it’ll make learning more enjoyable.