“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Many students tell stories of growing more and more afraid of this question at family gatherings as they get older – typically starting out towards the end of primary school, and then certainly as they begin high school.
Usually, this is because they haven’t figured out what they want to do with their lives yet. This is often seen as a negative thing, but in fact there’s no reason you need to lock down a single career early on in your schooling journey. However, as an early high school student, there’s plenty of value in starting to think ahead to how you might approach University – even if you’re not set on what you’d like to study yet.
Today, most ambitious young people will go to University in order to further their education and meet a network of exciting new people. It’s certainly not a prerequisite for success by any stretch of the truth, and it doesn’t suit everyone. However, University represents a great opportunity to launch yourself into a fulfilling and enjoyable career, so it’s definitely prudent to prepare yourself for how to make the most out of your time there.
We’ve collected a few things you can do throughout your early high school years (and even earlier!) in order to best prepare for University.
Maintain a consistent focus on academic work.
This one’s a no-brainer, but it’s so important that it’s worth a mention straight off the bat. Ultimately, universities are academic institutions, so naturally they’re looking for people who will fit in with their culture. No matter what stage of preparation you’re in, you can find subjects you love and put in the work to do well.
As you progress through high school, you typically get more freedom to choose subjects you enjoy. It’s great to be paying attention to which subjects these are, even in your earlier years of high school – this will help you to plan for which subjects you’ll pursue, and ultimately what you’ll study at university. And, when you enjoy a subject, you’ll naturally get better results – it’s a win-win.
Think about where you’d like to study.
If you’ve still got a few years left at high school, you don’t need to be narrowing down your University options too heavily. One thing which is useful, though, is to think about broadly where you want to study. Do you want to stay in your home country? Whereabouts? Or, do you want to go and study at a top University in the US, UK, or Asia?
Putting a little thought into general location at an early stage will mean that you’re starting to prepare yourself for what life will be like when you end up applying for these different places. If you set your sights on studying in the US, for example, you’ll start to notice all sorts of opportunities for learning about what life is like in the US.
Don’t forget the things you enjoy.
Highly selective universities have the luxury of choosing who they’d like to have on campus every year from a wide pool of applicants. While each will have their own criteria and preferred applicant profiles, one common thread is diversity of thought. Ultimately, universities want to avoid admitting thousands of the same types of people every year; they want people who think differently, and who come with a wide variety of interests.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you’ve got things you love doing, it means there’s plenty of value in pursuing these as far as you can. Whether it’s a musical instrument, sports, organising events, cooking, or anything else – any pursuit you’re genuinely passionate about will give you things to talk about with admissions officers, meaning you can stamp your mark as an individual.
The best part about this is that you don’t even have to be thinking too hard about using these things for a benefit in the future. Just keep enjoying what you’re into (while still making sure you’ve got time for the other important activities), and you’ll be well placed to leverage this when the time comes.
Talk to older people who’ve been through the process.
Have you got a cousin or family friend who’s at university? They’ll be an invaluable source of information for you, even if they don’t know it. They’ll be able to share their experiences, give some advice around what to aim for, and help you to narrow down what you want to study.
First-hand information is always the most valuable, so track down everyone you can who’s at university, and gather some insights ahead of time. This will help you to find your feet when you eventually arrive for your first semester, allowing you to get up to speed as quickly as you can.
Consider a range of options that will prepare you for the future.
As we mentioned earlier, depending on your age and stage, there’s no reason you have to lock down a career path as soon as you reach high school. On the contrary – school should be a time to explore different options, and to figure out what it is you enjoy doing.
However, it’s well worth taking the time to research a few different career paths that spark your initial interest. If you’re just beginning high school, remember it’ll be up to ten years away before you properly begin your career. Ask yourself how you see different career paths changing over the next ten years – will the skills you learn be more in demand, or are you ultimately learning to do something that can be automated in the near future? It can be a scary thought, but the world can change a lot in ten years!
One thing is for sure – demand for coding and technology jobs has been skyrocketing over the last few years, and this isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our article on the benefits of learning coding here.
At EduExperts, we understand the power of education to help you reach your goals, throughout all stages of school and beyond. Our tailored tuition programmes are a great way to help you prepare for University, no matter how old you are.
Want to know more? Get in touch with your local centre for a free, no-obligation assessment and chat – we can’t wait to meet you!