Map out your options - now
The new curriculum, the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), has broken the traditional boundaries between the science, arts and business streams. Now students study four core subjects - English, Chinese, maths and liberal studies - in addition to two or three electives from any discipline.
According to Alex Tham Koy-siong, co-ordinator (admissions) at City University, universities will emphasise these core subjects. 'In the past, students believed that getting into the science stream was best because they could take either science or arts majors at university, but this is no longer the case,' he says.
Tham suggests using the 'BASIC' strategy when it comes to making course selections and career choices. ''B' stands for battle, which means students need to fight hard to follow their dream,' he says. 'But simply having a dream is not enough; one needs 'A' - ability to succeed. Students have to judge whether their talent or strength matches their dream.
''S' stands for shape, which means students have to find out what they need to achieve their dream, for example, the relevant training or experience. 'I' is interest. It takes time to develop interests so I advise students read biographies of successful people and career development stories in newspapers. Put yourself in those people's shoes and imagine whether you would like to go in their direction.
''C' is the chance for success. You need to be realistic. For example, you might have a keen interest in basketball, but if you are not an elite player at inter-school level, there is probably little chance of playing professionally.'
Tham adds that the new 3-3-4 education system requires students to embrace the concept of inter-disciplinary learning. 'In the first stage of four-year university education, CityU students will undergo one year of general education before selecting their majors in the second year. We want students to develop abilities that are important across disciplines, such as problem-solving and creativity, before choosing their majors.'
Ricky Chan, chairman of the Association of Brain-based Learning in Education, welcomes the breakdown of boundaries. 'In the post-industrial era, education was specialised. But this is changing. Society demands all-round individuals who are able to co-operate with different industries and sectors,' he says.
To be successful, Chan stresses the importance of having a goal. 'Many people do not realise the difference between a goal and an intention. Having a goal is not imagining what you will be in the future. Having a goal is envisioning one's future based on real-life experience,' he says.
Chan gives an example. 'If you want to be a doctor, you should do thorough research to find out details - job duties, working locations and working hours - to get a clear vision of what the career is like,' he says.
During your research, problems may arise and adjustments may have to be made, but this is a good thing because it will give you a crystal-clear view of what you want.
'When you clearly know your goal, you will be motivated to work towards it,' Chan says. 'Start planning for the future early ... the earlier the better.'