“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” - Dorothy from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ We are decision makers. Everday of our lives, we are presented with choices. We have to decide what clothes to wear, what movie to watch, whether or not to forsake our diets and eat that last slice of pizza, whether we should stay or go… With these choices, even the most indecisive person must decide on an option. There is no way to go around it, for the mere fact that not deciding to do something is a decision. And with every decision we make, we lose the one we don’t choose. So, with every choice, an effort must be made to make sure that we not lose the best one. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that though I’ve come across different life situations and perplexities, considerations towards the creation of a good decision were always the same. These same factors and guidelines prove to be helpful even in deciding whether or not to choose an education abroad or locally:
1. The foundation of every good decision is correct information. Arm yourself - research, read, study. With every test and exam you’ve ever taken, there is nothing like coming in the examination room with a fully-reviewed mind. There is nothing like jotting down the right answer to a question. There is nothing like the security that you know the right information. By knowing the right answers, you are less likely to falter, less likely to make mistakes, more likely to get top marks, more likely to come up with the best choice… …and more likely to come to a good decision about your academic fate.
2. Be a realistic and practical idealist. There is nothing wrong about dreaming big. As a matter of fact - in my opinion - the ability to dream big is an asset. Do not lose it. However, though a positive mind may take you far, certain situations may still be anchoring you from actually moving offshore. These situations should not deter you from your dreams, but you have to take them into consideration. A simple tool that has always proven to be effective for me is the ‘pro’ and ‘con’ sheet. This piece of paper can even prove to be useful in coming to a decision about your geographic education. Jotting down the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ for each option allows you to be objective in a very subjective decision. A. What are the advantages/disadvantages of an education abroad? Suggested points for consideration: * educational system * independence * financial capability * others B. What are the advantages/disadvantages of a local education? Suggested points for consideration: * educational system * proximity to family, friends and the familiar * certainty * others The ‘pro’ and ‘con’ sheet will not necessarily allow you to lean towards the option which has the most number of ‘pros.’ As a matter of fact, ‘cons’ can actually be the factors that may lead you to a conclusion - if you are willing to do whatever it takes to overcome them to achieve a certain option.
3. Throw caution to the wind, but bring an umbrella. Nothing ever got accomplished without a little bit of guts and risk-taking. But bravery is not bravery without fear. Decision-making does not only entail intellectualizing, but feeling as well. Decisions involve human beings - the whole person. So, the heart and the mind cannot be separated. Accept your hesitations as real and significant and do jot down why they are so apparent. So, though sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind, taking into account all your fears and uncertancies can protect you against heavy rains since these feelings make you more cautious and careful when deciding.
4. Know when to listen and when to hear. Seek advice from others - but know when to ‘listen’ and when to just ‘hear.’ Yes, ears are necessary for both - but, ‘listening’ and ‘hearing’ are two different things. Hearing entails the perception of sounds. Listening, on the other hand, requires attention. Not all advice or statements given by others will be helpful to you. Unfortunately, sometimes, they can even be damaging. Hear those who are discouraging to the point of vicious and those who blab on and on about nothing. Merely nod and be on your way. Listen to those who care about your well-being and those who actually know what they are talking about. First-hand accounts and actual concern make the burden of decision-making a whole lot easier to bear. And with a big decision such as studying abroad or staying at home, you should welcome all genuine help and concern.
5. Then, decide. Would your path lead you down the yellow brick road? Or is there no place like home?