A big plus point of my decision to study in North America was the degree structure. I loved the possibility of exploring different electives at the same time as my major specialization. Though of course, in practice it was a bit difficult to balance.
First, let me set the stage.
Setting: several tabs deep into UBCO alumni’s LinkedIn.
Protagonist: me, a stressed and confused first year.
Motive: Course registration deadline looming close.
Outcome: Pondered becoming a professional LinkedIn influencer.
I set up the split screen feature on my laptop so I could browse LinkedIn and the SSC course schedule side-by-side. An especially useful trick I picked up during my program-hunting era was to look up majors and universities on LinkedIn. It helped me explore the kinds of jobs people had who were in the programs and specializations I was interested in.
In fact, one of the people I looked up who was in the same program I was interested in, ended up being my Orientation Leader during Jumpstart. It was this reverse-search that helped me centre on the kind of work I want to do and focus my education to follow suit rather than the other way around.
The early Imposter Syndrome
I sat in on many upper-level courses to see if my current major was the right fit for me. Though most of the content went over my head, I still found myself interested enough to continue with it. I emailed a lot of professors in different fields of research in my department, asking for information on their classes. I ended up with a lot of course outlines for upper-year courses which prepared me for exactly what I should expect in later courses and how I could structure my first- and second-year courses to better prepare me for those.
The most useful thing I did overall was take electives in a bunch of different faculties. From data science to cultural studies, I tried out anything and everything that appealed to me. I am ever so grateful for the add/drop without a W standing deadline. It gave me time to see if I liked the elective I was trying out more than what I was currently taking. While I found a lot of interesting courses that complimented my program, in the end, I still liked my major the most.
Plan your program with Program Plans!
Coming from an educational system where traditionally there is not a lot of wiggle room with regards to subject choices, the balancing act of electives and requirements was a bit difficult to get used to. Regardless of your high school experience, everyone struggles with adapting to this change. The best tip I have is to familiarize yourself with the process as much as you can. See an academic advisor and review the Program Plan for your major so that your graduation plans don’t get messed up.
Director’s Cut: Degree Navigator is your best friend. Figure it out, learn it, play around with it. The quicker you get good at navigating your degree, the easier your upper years will be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sanaa Shaikh is a second-year international student from India. She is studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics with a minor in Spanish. Sanaa loves spontaneous trips, petting small animals, and starting new projects that she’ll never finish. Her favourite thing to do in Kelowna is getting ice cream downtown and chilling by the marina