By Emily Wei, Lifestyle Columnist
Happy June everyone! This time last year, I remember the thrill I had from finishing my final high school exams, choosing my prom dress, getting ready for highschool graduation, and feeling like the world was my oyster. Little did I know how much I would learn over the next year during my first year at university. That’s why this column is dedicated to; the class of 2023, those still in highschool, and those still trying to decide what they want to do in university.
I may seem somewhat put-together from the outside (or at least I hope I do), however the first few months after highschool were quite a rollercoaster, so I hope some of you can learn and take a few things away from this column. To get into it, a little background on me is that I currently go to Dalhousie University for a Bachelor of Science and I am majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Business and a certificate in Neuroinnovative Technology! I know that my degree choice is quite a mouthful, but it took me lots of time, planning, and research to get to where I am today. Although I have only completed a year of studies, I definitely feel like I have a much better idea of various programs offered. Last year, I accepted my offer of admission somewhat blindly, and I was actually registered in the Nursing program initially. However, at the beginning of the school year, I realised that the courses offered in the Nursing program didn’t exactly align with the courses I really wanted to take in order to benefit me in the future so I switched to a Bachelor of Science!
To start off, let’s talk about the undergraduate degree you’ll be doing. This is the most general place to begin and is most likely what you submitted your application for. Some examples of this are; Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Computer Science. The ones I listed are just the most popular ones I’ve encountered this past year but, depending on the university, you should look into other degrees offered to see what best suits you. It’s also important to know that your initial impression of the name of the degree may not entirely encapsulate everything it can offer.
This brings me to my next topic of interest; majors. Majors are a bit more specific than an undergraduate degree which can be both good and bad to your decision making process. It helps you focus on the subjects you really enjoy doing, but it can also be stressful if you aren’t quite sure which program you want to do yet. For instance, I am doing a Bachelor of Science and majoring in Neuroscience. I am not entirely sure about other universities but, at least for Dalhousie, they don’t require you to declare your major until your second year, so I had the opportunity to explore different interests in my first year. If you are set on a specific major then good for you, but make sure to keep an open mind and talk to any more senior peers you have to gain some insight into others, because you never know what you might find happiness in!
Next we have minors and certificates! These are not a required program in universities, so it is entirely up to you if you choose to embark on one or not, but they are a good way for you to pursue other interests you have. For example, I chose to do a minor in Business and a certificate in Neuroinnovative Technology because I found both subjects interesting and didn’t think my major would go as deep into them as I’d like to. However, I did not decide these until a few months ago so there is no pressure to choose yours now either! My recommendation is to use the electives you are given in your first year to explore different courses. I say this because, in high school, I was mainly enrolled in purely science courses and didn’t find out I enjoyed computer science and commerce subjects until university.
Now that we’ve reached the end, I hope I haven’t scared anyone! I know it’s a lot to take in at first but I promise it is not as hard as it may sound. Even if you end up choosing a degree, major, or minor that doesn’t end up working out for you, academic advisors for all universities are very helpful and will always help you switch you into the right program that suits you best! Also, make sure to explore your university’s undergraduate website because I am sure that there will be at least one or two degree options you didn’t even know were offered.
Photo by Emily Ranquist: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photography-of-people-graduating-1205651/