Before you enter the university

Thursday, August 30, 2018

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Dear Editor,

After completing two years at The University of the West Indies, Mona, I have been made aware of a worrying trend of students changing their major after completing a year, some even switching to a programme in an entirely different faculty.

I have a friend who changed her major more than once. Another friend, who completed one year of her Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree, transferred to another faculty and did the first year of another degree only to tell me that she is returning to the Faculty of Law to complete her LLB.

I have discussed with some of the students the reasons for changing their selected programmes and some of the recurring themes present in their responses were: not enjoying or having sufficient interest in the subject areas being taught (in some cases caused by having only chosen the degree due to parental pressure), the exams being too difficult, or the financial burden of the programmes.

It can be very difficult as a young adult entering a tertiary institution, especially if you are not certain about the career path you wish to follow. Let's face it, many students leave straight from high school and matriculate to university not totally sure what they want to do with their lives, but are drawn along by societal and family expectations.

This situation is only exacerbated by some tertiary institutions which simply see new students as dollar signs rather than unique individuals, many of whom are in the early stages of adulthood, still finding themselves and in need of guidance.

I implore all new tertiary students to do the requisite research about their selected programme of study, including typical subject areas covered within the programme's syllabus and job opportunities available after completion of the programme. Attempt to get as much information as possible from a student enrolled in, or who has completed your selected programme at the institution you plan to attend.

If you are unsure about which degree to pursue, a good option to consider is to defer your acceptance into university or take a gap year. During this time one can map out the career path they wish to follow and collect more information and feedback about certain programmes from any friends who have started university.

This would aid them in making a more informed and calculated decision about which programme to undertake. In the current economic climate it would be ill-advised to embark on your tertiary education journey, only to realise you have erred about the route you wish to take to your destination, as it can prove quite costly.

Payton Patterson

Third-year student

Faculty of Law, UWI, Mona

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