Choosing where you want to go to university and what you want to study is an intimidating task for all high school students. Some students are given a lot of freedom when choosing their future field of study while other students face extreme parental pressure. Today, I will tell you the story of my experience with choosing a university and a field of study. My name is Ahad, and I am currently finishing up my first semester in the Business 1 program at McMaster University.
Ever since I was a little kid, my parents were constantly working, which led to a lot of late nights for them and me. I ended up talking to my mom more about what she did at her family company, and at that time it seemed extremely daunting because of the pressure and stress she was under. But ever since then, I have learned to understand where all the pressure at work comes from and how to deal with it and took an interest in how the family business was run and what the day-to-day operations were. My decision to study business at university was definitely inspired and heavily influenced by this. I knew from a relatively young age that I wanted to pursue the field of business. However, I was very interested in studying psychology as well. From there, I knew that I wanted to go to a university that had a strong business and psychology program which then started the search for my “dream university.”
Reading threads and asking older siblings and cousins about their experiences with a particular university is only going to get you so far in your search. It’s important to connect with students and talk to professors. The most effective way to do that is to visit the campus for tours and meet-and-greets. The most important part of visiting campuses or talking to profs is research. Research your program and its required courses prior to your visits, not only for your sake but to also impress some of the profs as well. If you begin to cultivate a good relationship with a prof, it will be extremely beneficial because he/she can write letters of recommendation and you might be able to work with them as a T.A. in your upper years.
An additional benefit of visiting campuses is that it allows you to get a feel for it. Visiting a university campus will not only give you insight into what the university life is all about, but it allows you to try and imagine yourself being there for a good chunk of your life. If the program at a particular university was really good, but you weren’t getting the vibe of the campus, you most likely won’t enjoy your university life.
I didn’t know I wanted to go to McMaster University until I decided to visit the campus a couple of times. I was able to speak with students in Engineering, Life Science, Social Science and Commerce and in their own way. They basically said the same thing: Mac cares for their students, and it’s definitely a place to call home. So I knew that McMaster was a place that I could feel comfortable with.
After that, I needed to find out if I liked what their Commerce program had to offer. I reached out to students in the first and second year as well as people that have received their MBA from McMaster to find out why they choose Mac over places like Schulich, Queens and Ivey. They told me something that I have never heard from any other students, at business programs at other universities: McMaster revamped their business program to model their curriculum with the ever-changing field of business to better equip students with the tools they need. The only major difference between DeGroote and Ivey or Schulich is the number and size of networking events.
At the end of the day, you will feel pressure from your parents and peers. But it’s up to you to take charge on your education, your future, and make decisions based on facts and research.