Embarking on Further Education

Coming out of college? or foundation studies? A common question for any youth is.

What should I study?

The answer is NO JOB nor Specialisation is better than another. The key is to love what you are doing. This is as important as getting married.
So what is the best subject? Even many working class dont know that answer. As Zhuang Zi, a famous chinese philosophist said, Enoy life. I therefore quote, you have to enjoy what you would like to do. Of course, that first divides people into 2 categories. Are you working going to inherit a family business? have loads of money and do not know what to do? have a hobby and know that it will be your life choice or just a normal person who wishes that education will bring in more money. If you are the 3rd kind, I congratuate you. At least you know what you love and like to do and that is the most fulfilling thing that money cannot buy. “A fulfilled life”.
So life and subjects are of close relation. Remember what you are going to study is perhaps what you hopefully would want to know what to do in the next 50 years of your life. Is that the case? For many, its not. The reason is, with our limited experience and knowlegde, how can we decide what we are going to do for our entire life? University from what i can advise, is to arm you with the necessary knowlegde to be independant and learn to have methods to LEARN.
So what subjects are the best to learn if i do not have any idea. The most fundamental you can do is Maths, IT or Language. I could say those 3 are the basis of anything. Its very general and it gives you good foundation. Next learn from family and friends or older neighbours, uncles. etc. Learn by asking what they do and visit them. Get more hands on to what they are doing and see if you like it. Food, Manufacturing, Medicine, Dentistry, Architecture, Computers, Flight, Investing, Banking.. Mind you. I guarantee, they will give you an insight to what they are doing. If you are interested to know more, that I congratulate you again, you are on the right track to finding yourself.
ART ! ART !ART ! Everyone has to have art in one form or another. I am not saying to do it only but if you are into other subjects, Maths, IT, Language, do pick up something art related. Its the foundaments of Creativity and with creativity we can survive. Whether in Business, IT, medicine, can you see that creativity brings it another step futher? So what is art? Photography? Drawing? Sketching?Design These are all forms of art. I personally picked design and a bit of others.

So what should I pick?

So what should I really pick? I have to say, if you still do not have any idea with what you should do after looking around for weeks or months. I suggest you stick to something more generic like the following, IT, Accounts, Banking, Manufacturing or some form of Engineering. In the areas of Food, Flight, Transport, Investing, Gaming. These are common commodities, just like investing in stocks, you would need to look into something that is not going to change in a few generations. These are the few that is going to last and give you a job.

Choosing a University

Choosing a right university can be daunting. A few things that comes to mind that you need to consider is:

1. Reputation of the University
2. Fundings the University has
3. Location of the University
4. University Industrial Partners

The above has different orders of priority depending on what YOU want to do. Are you a person that chooses the course as depending on your personal habits/hobbies. Or are you a person who wants to have a good stable job that has good career advancements. Or finally, you want to make loads of money and retire early.

In life, the above are some questions you should ask yourself. A high percentage of students who study overseas would normally stay in the country of study after they graduate. So a good question is where do you see yourself working in? Do you like a multicultural urban city or a sub urban tech/business development park. This then determines the location of the university.

Industrial partners / fundings and reputation pretty much fall side by side and these are the points one should really investigate when choosing a university. Rankings is one of the factors, but not entirely. Some universitys are very well known but hover in the upper mid range rankings while some universites which you never heard of might be in the top 3.

Finally industrial partners and fundings. I cannot stress the importance of this. Industries and governments do alot of studies and analysis (and most of times on undisclosed circumstances) to investigate on how well the universities are doing. If they invest alot in a University, bingo. there must be a reason.

Ahh . you might say.. what about the teaching quality, standard of teaching.. yada yada. I have to let some light shine on you. What you learn from the university is experience of studying, not the quality. You have to continue to upgrade yourself throughout your lifetime! Not only when you are at school. From the Uni, there is a chance for you to establish your contacts and connect to various industrial partners. (This is the primary purpose of the premium fees you pay to an institution.) The rest is reputation.

The rule of thumb here is. If a course/insitution is wellknown(positively in medias). School is funded very well for research. Go for it. 85% of the time, its ranking will grow to be top eventually (if not currently). Go for it.

Best of luck with Uni hunting.

Following Institutions are very well known locally and world-wide. These are based on a survey which asked a list of schools people have heard of or are reliably comfortable with. Without perference of order:

Europe

  • Cambridge University – Cambridge, UK
  • Oxford University – Oxford, UK
  • University College London – London
  • Imperial University – London

Asia

  • National University of Singapore – Singapore
  • NTU Nanyang Technological University – Singapore
  • Peking University – China
  • TsingHua University – China

Americas

  • Carnegie Mellon
  • Princeton University
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of California Los Angeles

University Rankings

There are various ranking companies or organisations all over the world. How they work is very subjective and sometimes, it does not fit the “taste” to individual needs. For example, business newspapers would rate according to business standards, research based publications would rate according to fundings and so on for other subjective relations, which will prioritise to their needs.

So how should they work?

There is no definate answer, however from experience, it would ultimately be dependant on reputation. Rankings should be done based on strengths and weaknesses of every sector the institution has, be it technology, science, humanities etc. However world rankings should be done on overall fundings(wealth of school), international awards, number of scientic breakthroughs, industrial partnerships, and positive world media coverage. In UK, RAE school ranking uses a model that is very close to what is described above, the only missing factor is media coverage and industrial partners.

Teaching standard, I need to emphasize, is not an issue at all. Refer to the article, choosing a right university. 85% of the time, skills learned from institutions DO NOT directly impact the life time of your career. Institutions only equip one with the most basic set of skills and future developments are done from self-learning, research. And this, we can acknowlegde, ALL institutions do that very well to the extent that the difference is marginal.

Legend

  • (G) – Government
  • (O) – Independant Non-Profit Organisation
  • (C) – Corporate Ranking Companies / Media

World Ranking

Country Specific

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_and_university_rankings



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