After making the decision to pursue tertiary or further education, finding the right course can be a daunting task. There are many factors to consider when making this choice, so we’ve focused on the four most important ones to set you on your way.
- What is your end goal?
Why have you decided to study? How do you plan to use your qualification? As a school-leaver, further study is about kick-starting your career and making sure you can land yourself a job when you graduate. If you’re already working, you may simply want to upskill, specialise or land yourself a big promotion.
- Consider the practicalities
The amount of time, effort and money you are able to invest into your studies will have an impact on your choices. If you can commit to a full-time study load then go for it, but many people are time-poor and need to juggle work, families and other commitments – and there’s also travel time to think about. In these situations, an online or part-time course could be a better fit, and there are even online self-paced options so you can get there in your own time.
Studying particular courses can make you eligible for a government study loan, which will allow you to study without paying a cent until you are earning over the threshold amount. Alternatively, some qualifications require up-front payments, but many institutions also offer scholarship programs and payment plans that can help. In both scenarios you must consider whether you will be making a good return-on-investment when you complete your course.
Once you have a clear idea of why you want to study and how much you want to invest, it’s time to research! Open days are an excellent way to not only explore different course options, but to explore different universities. The environment and atmosphere could influence your decision. While you’re there, collect course handbooks and guides so that you can go home and investigate more! There are also dedicated future-student advisers who work on campus and online, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Follow your heart
If you have a passion for something, a university course that covers this area will not only be enjoyable, but will also lead you into a career that you love, and one in which you are more likely to thrive! Many people, particularly students fresh out of high school, feel pressured to do what their parents or friends expect, or to study a field that pays more or has an esteemed reputation.
If you base your choices around someone else’s idea of success or on materialism alone, you are less likely to enjoy your course and more likely to be very unhappy in your future career. Do what you love! If you don’t know what that is yet, give yourself some time to explore by doing work experience or taking some short courses to get a taste of different areas before you commit to anything. And even if you do enrol and decide that your course isn’t the perfect fit, you can always transfer to another course part-way through – just make sure you speak to your institution so you can minimise your financial outlay and transfer any relevant credit your new course.
The most important thing you can do in choosing a course is to actually make the decision and get started. You’ll never know if you don’t give it a go!