So, what is more important to you? Exploring your passion, in a profession you enjoy, or having a high salary?
This is a question students often ask themselves, their counsellors, or even their parents.
Many students go through an entire degree programme not finding out the answer, and some drop out of programmes mid-way, and some end up working in a completely different field after graduation.
How do you answer such a question?
Research has shown that passion is a key driver for success, and those who love what they do thrive and are more satisfied with their careers.
But before you conclude that passion is more important than income, there are two very important things to consider.
The first is the difficulty of asking a fresh out of high school student about his or her passion.
Some fortunate ones already have strong interests in a particular area and know what they would like to do For example: “I want to be doctor to save lives, or be an engineer working on cars!”
Most however, simply don't have the exposure and experience to consider the options that are available, and often don't really know enough to make a good decision.
One may opt for tools and guides - such as personality assessments etc. - that may tell you things like 'Hey, you are a people person so you should this or that', but this is in no way conclusive when you're selecting a degree programme that can potentially define your working career and the next 50 years of your life.
What then is the answer?
Based on experience, students need to have a good understanding of themselves, and the careers available before deciding on which degree programme they should take up.
One good way is to attend career talks, education exhibitions, and look at the world around you to see what are the issues important to you, skills that you may enjoy applying, or areas where you can contribute to an organisation and society.
Attending an education exhibition, for example, will allow you to browse through a variety of programmes and speak with a range of people who can share their experience and perhaps point you in the right direction.
Just by walking around and speaking to people, you can broaden your horizons and think about some of the options available.
But, there is the second important question that most need to also think about: affordability.
Can you afford, or how can you pay for taking up a programme that you're passionate about?
Sometimes, the cost of pursuing your passion may present you with a limited range of options.
But again, this is where you need to look around for alternative ways to achieve your dreams. Comparing courses, pathways, and potential scholarship options will allow you to make a better decision.
Another option considered by some is to take up a study programme that will enable them to start working first, and then save up money for a postgraduate course in the area of their choice.
With second, or even third careers becoming a norm these days, and a wider range of study options available, one could also pursue a second degree and start in another field after several years of working.