Helping Your Students Find the Right College Course

Feb 21, 2018 by

When the time comes for your students to start applying to colleges, there are several things to consider. It’s worth asking them if they feel ready to embark on such a step, whether they know which path they want to go down, and if they need a college degree to go into their chosen career. Often, you are their first port of call when they need someone to help them with the college process, and they may ask you more than once which course you believe is right for them. As with most things, it depends on some crucial factors that need to be carefully thought through before they settle on a decision. Although you can’t decide for them, you can help guide them into what you believe is the perfect course that will offer them the most rewards as they go through college.

Find a college they like

There are over 5,000 colleges and universities scattered throughout the United States, which can make choosing one overwhelming. Where your student might be struggling to find which course they like best, it’s important that they first choose a college where they feel most comfortable attending, as that is where they will be going to spend the next few years of their life. Moreover, courses are not usually college specific, so if they find a college they would love to go to, then it’s likely that it will have a number of courses for them to choose from that will satisfy their aspirations. Ask your student what is important to them about a college. It could be sporting opportunities, scholarships, or societies to name a few. Their extracurricular activities are as beneficial to them as their course, as it is where lifelong friendships and connections are made.

Look at the course content

One college might offer a course with the same name as another, but this is an easy trap to fall into when your student reaches college to be confronted with course content they never hoped to be studying. Though most degrees require students to study minor subjects alongside their major, it is their major that they will be spending most of their time researching. Luckily, most colleges have an overview of what course content they cover on their college websites, so you can help your student gather a rough indication of what it is they will likely be studying. If they aren’t happy studying certain books or spending time in a course where there are fewer contact hours, then encourage them to look elsewhere to find one they like.

Read student testimonials

Often, the best way to get a true feel for a course is by asking existing students of graduates what they made of the course. While a college will try and sell their course to your student with a biased motive, you will be able to gather a reliable set of views to go off when you speak to other students. You can find testimonials on college websites, but to get a better view, you can always ask your student to speak to some on the campus they are visiting, or contact them on forums online. If you spot an existing trend between college students that throws a spanner in the works – or encourages your student to go – then make a note of that when it comes to decision time.

Encourage them to do something they love

Luckily, you are now living in a world where people can afford to study a subject they love, thanks to the abundance of job opportunities in fields that didn’t exist a few years ago. This means that there is a high chance of your student finding a course they love, which will also benefit them in the long run. For example, if you have a student who would love to help people in a medical setting, then it’s a good idea to push them towards such a course, whether they want to become a doctor or a nurse. In this case, it is sometimes better to go with a course that isn’t based in a college, such as the Ultimate Medical Academy, where they can find practical application more useful than academic class time.

There is even room for your student to travel the world with their course if their dream is to see new cultures as they study. There are universities across the globe which boast excellent courses and student development in exotic locations, and you could even ask your student to consider studying in places such as the UK, Germany, or Singapore if they feel ready to move so far away.

Be realistic

Though there are a number of courses now which cater to a range of abilities and skillsets, there are some restrictions your student must work with when they are applying. If they want to pursue a career in languages, then they won’t be able to if their grades are low in these areas in school. It could be that their grades aren’t as high as what the colleges they are looking at are asking for. This could lead to having a difficult conversation with them over considering an alternative college. With so many to choose from, they are bound to find one they love, but they need to tailor their expectations to match their grades. Not only this, but you don’t want them to be throwing away money at a course you know won’t see them prosper. While you can usually take your skills from one course and apply them to a new job area, there will be some courses that provide opportunity in the form of a dead end.

Talk to their parents

Though the choice over which course your student chooses to take is predominantly theirs, it will likely be their parents who will be paying to put them through the college system. It could be that they would like their child to follow a career that they believe will get them the most for their investment in their future. Sometimes, a student will have a tough time persuading their parents that their chosen path is worth it. It could be down to you to work with the family to reach a decision that all of you agree on. For example, if your student is set on studying musical theatre and has a true gift, it could be that their parents are worrying about the stability of their dream, even if they are brilliant at what they do. It’s wise here to suggest they have a backup plan in case the competition reaches new heights after they graduate, which goes for any course that poses such problems.

Help them consider the costs

Depending on which course your student goes for, they may be facing considerable costs due to the length of the course. Not only this, but the higher the college is in the university rankings, the more it can cost to send a child through the system. Where some students may be lucky in that their parents will be able to afford to send them to college, others won’t be able to. For gifted students, you should encourage them to seek out alternative financial help. They could apply for scholarships or find a sponsor who has true faith in their abilities to do well. More often than not, this motivates students to prosper in college when they know someone has their back.

However, there are also costs that creep up on them when they are in college. Sitting down with your student and teaching them how to budget the costs of their accommodation, social outings, and vacations will help them learn how to manage their money better in the long run. It will also let them learn to appreciate the value of money, especially if they take up a part-time job as they are studying.

Look at potential job prospects

Some courses, such as Engineering and Humanities will leave you with a broad skillset to take further into life. This means that your student will struggle less to find a job once they have graduated. It will also give them scope to pursue a more vocational career if they choose to. For courses like Law and Architecture, your student could have a hard time finding a job, even with a top-notch degree. This is mainly because the job market is saturated with people who have studied law all competing for the small number of jobs available. If your student is prepared to take this risk, then there is no reason why they shouldn’t follow it if they are willing to work hard. Sometimes, it’s better to ask them if they want to encounter such stresses after graduating, and you could suggest alternative routes for them to follow, which will help them get to where they want to be. Many courses will show you how many graduates have found employment after leaving, which could be a deciding factor in what course your student takes. In fact, similar courses at different colleges might have higher employment rates, which is also worth considering when they take everything into account.

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