Finding Related Areas of Study

The next step is to identify study areas that are related to your interests. You might think this would be pretty self-explanatory for the academic-related interests you have on your list.

Slide 1: On Your Mark

Lesson 3: Related Areas of Study

So coming into this lesson, I want you to have your list of highest rated activities from Week in a Life.

Slide 2: 

  • Musical Theater
  • Social Media
  • Writing
  • Animals
  • International Travel
  • Pop Culture
  • Reading
  • Reality Competition Shows
  • Photography
  • YouTube

And also from last week's What Do You Love assignment. And also, any academic interests that you identified last week as well. So, the next step is to identify study areas that are related to your interests. You might think this would be pretty self-explanatory for the academic-related interests you have on your list. However, there are a number of related study areas for many different academic interests. For instance, chemistry could include, of course, a chemistry program, but could also include pharmacy, biochemistry, chemical engineering, integrated science programs, and chemical technology, just to name a few. 

So we're going to walk through this stage together.We’re going to use an example from a member of ours who is in 10th grade. She does not have a clear academic interest area yet, which is totally fine. It's still early in the game. 

Slide 3: Ellie’s Answers

  • Musical Theater – watching
  • Social Media – Instagram
  • Writing – creative writing
  • Animals – dogs
  • International Travel
  • Pop Culture – including other countries
  • Reading – fiction, modern day (some in other countries)
  • Reality Competition Shows – Top Chef
  • Photography
  • YouTube

So here's an example list based on Ellie's answers to the action step you just did. We don't have a lot of academic interests on here, since she's only, you know, just starting 10th grade. But this could be the case too, for you, even if you've been in high school for a while. So that's fine. Don't worry if you don't have any major academic areas on here. But what we want to do is look at your shortlist of interests and think about relevant specifics. 

So for musical theater, it's that she gets really into, you know, watching them and learning about them. Social media, she particularly loves social media like Instagram and Snap Chat. For writing, she prefers creative writing versus essays. Animals, she loves dogs. She recently watched an elephant documentary that she was really into. International travel — you know, there's not much specifics to say about that. Just all international travel. Pop culture, she likes, including other countries. Okay, I will take a handwriting course, I think, at some point in my life. Reading, mostly fiction, modern day. Some in other countries, but modern day. Reality competition shows like Top Chef, mostly. There's some baking show she watches as well. Photography is a pretty new interest that she's just gotten into. YouTube. 

Slide 4: Interest Categories

  • Cultures
  • Media
  • Arts

So what we want to do is we want to see if these interests fall into certain categories. You know, so that more than one interest falls into one category. They can be sort of any categories that work well for you. But what we see here is that all of these fall into basically three categories. We have cultures, we have media, and we have the arts. All of these, except for animals, fall into one of these three categories. I happen to know that though she loves animals, it's not a huge area of focus for her. You'll know that for yourself. If there's an outlier category that's really one of your passions, absolutely. You know, if that were the case, we would put animals here. It's not for her, so we're not going to. But don't worry about if you end up putting a category that only has one of your interests under it. If it's a passion, it's a passion. So put it on there. Not hers, though. 

Slide 5: Specific Areas of Study

So what we're going to start to do now is to work backwards from the database to create a search. What we're going to do is we're going to look at all of the specific areas of study. You'll find a sheet on this that are in the database. And we're going to figure out which ones are even remotely related to your categories. Now, I know this might look overwhelming, but the first thing you're going to do is it's very easy to go through and eliminate ones that you know aren't associated with your categories. 

So for Ellie's, we could go through in, you know — how many minutes is this taking me? None of these are related to any of hers so far. Now again, you know, if animals — if we had kept that, we would keep Animal Science for now. But we didn't. We get to Anthropology and that's one she's not familiar with. And so, if you're not familiar with a term, you're going to just Google it. This happens to me a lot. As I've created the database, there's so many of these areas of study I know nothing about. So totally, Google's your friend. Don't worry about whether the Google definition of the field of study sounds interesting or not, just whether it's aligned with your interests from your list. 

So for instance, the Wikipedia definition of Anthropology is Anthropology is the study of humans and human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistics Anthropology studies how language affects social life. So that's a little bit of a dry and vague definition. But we see that it's related to cultures, which is on our list. So we're not going to eliminate Anthropology. But still, you know, these are all things — okay, Area and Cultural Studies, we’ll keep for now. Art Science, we’ll keep it. It's related to the arts. Arts and Entertainment matter. 

Okay. So this is — you know, it took seconds for me to go through one column. So absolutely, don't let this overwhelm you. First go through and cross out what you know isn't related. Any words you come across that you don't know, Google it to see if it will stay on your list. 

Beyond the States Database Walkthrough

So what we're going to do now, you have that list of program areas that somehow relate to that shortlist of categories. And what we're going to do is we're going to do specific searches for the areas we identified above. We're not going to worry about country, we're not going to worry about tuition, any of that. We're just identifying areas of study at this time. So we just want to learn more about them, so we want to find websites that describe them better than others. And I can tell you that some schools and countries are just better at writing up descriptions than others. Northern Europe and the Netherlands usually provide more compelling descriptions, so that's always a good place to start. But I want you to remember that keeping it on the list doesn't mean you're choosing an area of study. It just means it's worth looking into further. 

So we're going to go into the database and we're going to use some of these categories that Ellie figured out when going through the list of specific study areas. So Anthropology, as you remember, stayed on the list. So we're putting in Anthropology. That is the only thing that we are putting in. None of the other stuff matter, remember, because we're just learning about it. 

So as she goes through, let's see if we see anything. Okay, so here is one. Like I said, the Netherlands often has better descriptions. And so, you read through that. And you see if that's aligned with your interest. Now we see that there's a lot of political economy. This is something that isn't really aligned with those categories that Ellie had identified. So we know we're going to take it off. Done. You know, one down. 

So then we go to Arts and – Area and Cultural Studies. Sorry, that's the next one. And so, as we go through these, I can tell you that they all seem to sort of have a political spin. And that's not something she's interested in either. And there's also not one area, you know, there's not one region that particularly interests her. So this also, after going through a few of these, is something that we know that we're going to cross off. So that's what you would do too, you would go through a few and see what Area and Cultural Studies sort of means. 

So then we get to Arts and Entertainment Management. So there are only a few here. When you look at this one, it looks very sort of business-focused, and it is business focused based on, you know, museums, cultural, creative sectors. But the economics part of it doesn't really appeal to her interests so much. However, we can't disqualify something just based on one program. So it's important that you go back and you look at another one as well. So we look here, Creative Business and Media Management. This one doesn't give a whole lot of information, so let's go to another one. Okay, so this one talks about how the world of media and entertainment changes rapidly. She goes through, she sees social media, television. This is definitely still aligned with her interests. So we're going to keep that one on for now. 

Same with, as we go to — the next one on her list was Communications and Media Studies. Search. So there are a lot of things underneath this. There are what? 44 programs under this. So this would be a category that you definitely want to go through several of them to see if this is a specific area of study that you want to keep on your list. It absolutely is for Ellie. 

So you're going to go through the same process. You're not going to go to any of the school websites yet. We're not worried about what courses are required. We're looking at whether the general description of the program is something that sounds pretty cool. You know, that it isn't something that sounds horrible to say. And if there's more than one in that category, then that's probably an area you want to keep. If there's just one where you're like, “Whoa, no. This is too much economics,” or whatever else, keep it in, but you know, like Area and Cultural Studies, for almost all of those programs, it talks about politics, it talks about economics, and those sorts of things. That's not something again for Ellie that she's interested in. So that's why we knew to take that one off. There were enough programs that had these similarities that were not of interest, that we knew to take it off. 

So that's sort of the process you're going to go through here. So now from your list of interests, you have a list of corresponding study areas. And you've done the first step of weeding through these possibilities, sort of at a surface level. And so, we're going to dig a little bit deeper in the next lesson.