When applying to a university or college, the first step is choosing a discipline. This is not a simple task: our abilities and preferences must be taken into account. Which subjects engage our curiosity, interest and passion? What professions are aligned with our values? In addition, we have to consider the economic and social aspects of our choice. What kinds of jobs will be available after graduation? How much will they pay? How will others perceive us? How will we perceive ourselves, and so forth.
The choosing of a discipline must be taken seriously. It is a good idea to gather information about the fields being considered, consult with people whose opinions we value and talk to other students or professionals. It is also worth considering the location of the relevant educational institutions, as well as their reputations and admissions requirements.
Help in choosing a discipline can be obtained at the professional and academic advice centers of the various academic institutions, as well as at certain private centers. The free online resource Kivunim Leatid can also be useful. It uses scientific methods to assist those who are having trouble choosing a discipline.
It is important to realize that being accepted to your department of choice is just the first step. People often choose to change their discipline at some point during their studies. Others choose to pursue an advanced degree in a different field than that of their undergraduate degree. A survey conducted in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries shows that 40% of workers are not employed in the field in which they studied as undergraduates.
In a perfect world people could study whatever they wished, wherever they liked, perhaps even for free. But this is not realistic. First, there are a limited number of places available in institutions of higher education. In some departments the number of candidates is significantly higher than the number of spaces available. Five to ten candidates compete for each space in fields that are considered prestigious, such as medicine, engineering, computer science, communications and psychology. It is generally easier to be accepted to departments where the number of available places exceeds the demand for them.
The number of spaces in each department is limited by a variety of constraints, including the requirements of the Higher Education Council (Malag). These requirements arise from the need to regulate the job market and to take into account the number of positions in a certain field, as well as the budgetary and logistical capabilities of the academic institutions, such as the number of lecturers employed and laboratory and classroom capacity. Because they cannot accept all candidates, the institutions prefer to accept those who have better chances of academic success. To this end, many departments establish admissions criteria to ensure that the knowledge and abilities of those admitted will enable them to successfully manage the demands of their study program. This is accomplished by selecting which tools will be used to screen the candidates. It is important to understand that as long as the demand for places exceeds the supply, switching to different admissions tools will not change the number of candidates accepted. There will always be applicants - among them, highly competent people - who are not accepted to their department of choice because of insufficient space. The choice of this or that admissions tool will not change the number of students accepted, though it may affect which students are accepted.