Picking schools to apply to is the fundamental starting point in any university preparation program. If you do not have a clear starting point, you will not be able to move forward, professionally. You must choose a group of schools that helps you achieve your academic, personal and professional goals.
Not all high school students know what they want in life; I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. I figured that I would either be a computer programmer or TV news anchor. Little had I planned for a love of philosophy, writing and travel – let alone the fortitude to try out working for myself in a country not my own. Had I “pigeon-holed” myself into a program with strict majors and little room for exploration, I would have never found my passion. And I would have never been your tutor in Bangkok.
So finding a school that fits your goals is good, but you should also give yourself the opportunities to stay up-to-date and in a strong position to make yourself constantly better. This first thing you are going to have to decide is if you want to stay in Thailand or if you want to go abroad. There are pros and cons for each. I will speak briefly about them, but please understand that I am a huge proponent of and very biased towards the American education system.
Pros for Staying in Thailand
STUDYING in Thailand – at Chulalongkorn or Thammasat University – is great if you want to live and work in Thailand. Those schools are affordable, famous and provide a good education. If you are going to work for an MNC in Thailand, or if you are going to run your family company, staying here is both affordable and fine. In addition, studying at a local school does not prevent you from attending a master’s degree or Ph.D. program in another country later in life, nor does it eliminate a study abroad option.
Cons of Staying in Thailand
STAYING in Thailand might make it difficult to get jobs in the west or Singapore. Even though you will be fine if you plan to work in Thailand, the income and status disparity might make you unable to earn your potential. In addition, studying abroad will help you earn more money right away, as many international companies will pay international wage if you graduate from an international school. Americans earn more starting than Thais, and if an American company hires a Thai who lives in America, the Thai can expect an American salary. This is a very compelling con.
Pros for Studying Abroad
Even if you want to live and work in Thailand, the experience of studying abroad helps you grow up. Most students studying in Thailand will continue to live with their parents. That is safe, and affordable, but it is also a barrier to intellectual development. Being on your own in a foreign country encourages you to grow up, quickly. You will be faced with complex social situations that force you to use the ethics and intelligence you have developed throughout the first 18 years of your life.
In addition, your international job market opens up, you will be able to get jobs almost anywhere in the world. This is a great thing for you.
Cons of Studying Abroad
STUDYING in the United States, Europe, Singapore, Australia or any other country besides Thailand is sometimes prohibitively expensive. If your family does not have enough income to support a life abroad, you may be in trouble. There are solutions – grants, scholarships, loans, work-study – but they are all difficult, competitive and oftentimes costly. One very real con with studying abroad is the fact that you have to deal with the financial obligation.
Studying abroad is also quite scary, especially if you are used to living with your parents, having Thai friends and being around familiar surroundings. You will be a minority in a sea of falang, constantly. There are Thai students, but not many, and there is no guarantee you will be friends. In fact, there are no guarantees, period. You are going to an unknown place to learn unknown things and you hope for a good experience. That can be scary. One con is that you have to do something scary.
It is important for you to choose a set of target schools before any other part of this process because you need a target to reach for.
When you have a goal, you can easily set up a roadmap to achieve that goals. Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie talk about that in their inspiration books, Muhammad Yunus had a goal before creating the Grimean. Seemingly impossible tasks start with a dream. You think getting into college should be left to chance? Think again.
Choosing target programs now sets the table for the rest of your preparation. If you find out that you really, really care about sports, or computers, or not spending any money, or social status, you need to think about the list of schools and what they can offer.
You are allowed to change your mind, of course, but choosing targets now will help you for the rest of your high school career, and it will give your parents focus and clarity so they know what they have to do. If you know for a fact that you want to stay in Thailand, then your test preparation, GPA and essay goals are different that someone who wants to study in Japan, or the United States or Singapore.
This lesson will walk you step-by-step through the choosing a school process; you are going to actually have two worksheets and two sets of tasks. This step-by-step will take a long time, because before we identify the schools of your choice, we must identify what it is you and your parents really want. Choosing a school is one of the most important choices of your life – you are going to have to live with the school you go to for the rest of your life. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. You must be aware, constantly, of what you want and what you want out of life.
SPECIAL NOTE FOR PARENTS
Many parents feel, rightly, that because they paid for the child and for the child’s education, that they have first choice of education. Many parents, especially in Asia, believe that they are the final deciders of University application; that if your son or daughter does not go to Harvard, or Princeton, or Michigan then you won’t pay for their education, that you will be disappointed, that you will not support them any longer.
I firmly advise against that thought process.
If your son or daughter is studying abroad, she will be forced to make decisions every day without your input. You cannot control your children once they are in University, especially if they are abroad and you are diligently working here. You must allow them to grow up. That begins by making smart choices about which school to attend. You can have your say, you can force them to apply to some schools, but if they don’t want to go, you better believe that they will do all they can to sabotage their chances of admission. In addition, being forced into a program for 4 years is the quickest way to fail. University needs to be a decision you make together.
I know you don’t like hearing that, but it is true. Advise your son or daughter, help them, refer them to good program and suggest and influence them to attend the school you want, but don’t hold the iron fist and enforce … you will ultimately be sabotaging your own desires.
SPECIAL NOTE FOR STUDENTS
Your parents have paid for your entire education… your entire life. They care about you and they care about themselves. If they want you to go to Harvard, there is a good reason, and ultimately it’s for your benefit. If you are adamant about a school, create a compromise. Apply to both. And if you get in to both, then you can have a long discussion with your parents. But if you only get into one, your decision is made. That way, no one can be blamed. Just understand that you both have the same goal.
Was this brief outline helpful? It’s my goal to help you get into the best University possible. I have developed excellent tutoring courses in Bangkok for private tuition. In addition, if your target is a top-ranked University, I can help you earn higher grades, build a strong network, and gather incredible advice. If this was helpful, please forward it to a friend who will benefit from the information.