UPDATE: See our newer post here: 5 Tips on Choosing a Course
“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” W.B. Yeats
This guide is all about passion. Your passion for your course, and for your future career. Because the secret to happiness is being able to love whatever it is you do in life.
And what does this all have to do with choosing the right course for you? It all starts here. Find the right course, at the right university or college, and you will be inspired to succeed.
So how do you make the right choice? Check our Top 10 tips on choosing your course for the lowdown on getting where you want to be – faster.
This is not necessarily what are you good at, but what do you love doing? You might be great at maths, but you spend your weekends fixing up bits of old computers. So don’t study maths, focus on IT or computer engineering instead. Specialise in your passion, and learn more about it from the world’s best teachers.
It’s really important to think about why you are interested in this subject. Is it because you can see your exciting, glittering career ahead? Or is it because it’s what your parents want? By questioning yourself now, you can work out the exact path you want your choice to take you on.
There are really two parts to this. Where is the best country to specialise in this subject area? Maybe it’s a country with plenty of internship and graduate work opportunities in that industry, or a city that has access to specific resources. If you’re interested in marine biology, why not head straight to the world’s largest coral reef in Australia and learn right at the source?
It’s also a good idea to ask yourself: where in the world would you love to live for a few years? This is an opportunity to learn a new language or adopt a new culture, make amazing friends, and experience a very different way of life. And if you’re happy in your life, you’ll be happy in your study.
Now that you have found your dream, let’s just stop a minute and make sure it’s realistic. Can you afford the flights, tuition and cost of living? Do you need to have certain qualifications first – English language proficiency, GMAT scores? Don’t get discouraged – a pathway program may be all you need to cross those hurdles. And if this really is your passion, then prove it in your scholarship application and you may get some financial help.
You need to narrow down all your options to about five real, practical choices. That takes a lot of research. A StudyLink course search is a good place to start, then go online and ask questions in student discussion groups or register for online chats. Read student blogs to see what it’s really like. Glossy prospectuses don’t always tell you the full story, so talk to people you know who have studied in that country or city about what it’s really like.
While you are researching, you’ll come up with all kinds of different criteria to judge a university or course by. So make a shortlist of the top three features you’re looking for. These could be school ranking or prestige, research facilities, practical experience and internships, cost of tuition, student support services, safety, social life, chance to travel… there are so many variables, and what’s right for you may be completely wrong for someone else.
Hopefully you have some idea by now of how you prefer to study. And hopefully the answer is not ‘by sleeping’ or ‘by crossing my fingers as I walk into the exam hall.’ Some people prefer final exams, others like regular assignments to keep them busy throughout the year. Some like theory, others like practical hands-on application. Some like to work in groups, others like to work individually. Some like to present their assignment verbally, others prefer to create written reports. Choose a course that suits your study style, and you will be more confident in your success. Or, if you want to challenge yourself, choose a course that will take you out of your comfort zone!
Studying overseas can be expensive, so think of it as an investment in your future. And that means your career and your salary. Find out where other international students at that university have worked after graduation, and if there’s an active alumni network, or the opportunity to meet industry leaders during your course.
Every subject has so many different options, so it’s good to know the most specific interest you have. Engineering students could study anything from bio-medical engineering to civil engineering. So if you’d rather build bridges than human body parts, understand that before you sign up.
Yes, this is an important decision. But if you get there and you realise you’ve made a terrible mistake, it’s not too late. Talk to the student counsellor on campus, and see if there are better options for you there. Don’t spend the next five years of your life staring at textbooks you have no interest in whatsoever. Remember, it’s all about your passion – keep the excitement alive, and you will succeed!
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