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How to choose the right course for you

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How do you decide which course is best for you when you have decided to attend university or college for higher education? We provide our best suggestions and advice for choosing your course, and how you can use to help you on your way.

Why should you go to university?

Your first consideration when you start looking for course suggestions should be, why are you choosing to go to University?

Do you want to further your career by extending your skill set? If this is the case you should choose a course in a subject that is a natural progression of your existing skills and qualifications.

If the aim is to progress further with your current employer, selecting a course that is relevant to your work is recommended. Discussing study options with your peers, colleagues or employer can help to determine what qualification will help with your career.

Are you looking to diversify your knowledge or change your career path completely? Studying may be necessary if you are looking to change careers. If this is your motivation for studying, it is important that you consider what career you wish to pursue.

What are you really interested in?

To choose a course that really fits you, it’s important to think about what you find interesting, and what you find satisfaction in doing. Do you want to study a course that opens up an exciting career that you can see yourself enjoying? Have you been advised by friends or family to study a particular area?

Studying for a degree can take several years, so it is important that you make sure that you are committing yourself to the path of study that is best for you.

Where would you like to study?

If you are considering studying abroad, one question to ask yourself is: where in the world would you love to live for a few years? This is an opportunity to learn a new language and experience a new culture, make new friends and explore a different way of life.

You should also consider which countries cater the best for your chosen subject area. Maybe it is 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, or perhaps to Iceland. There are many study locations around the world to consider for your chosen subject, so try doing a course search on and see what comes up.

Are your aims realistic?

When you have found the right course for you and the university at which you would like to study, you should now consider if your ambitions are realistic. Can you afford the flights, tuition and cost of living? Do you need to have certain qualifications first such as English language proficiency, GMAT scores? Don’t be discouraged, a pathway programme may be all you need to cross those hurdles. If this really is your passion, consider a scholarship application and you may receive financial help as well.

You may also want to consider the duration of your study. To help you decide, here are some example study durations for full-time 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 programme may be all you need to cross those hurdles. If this really is your passion, prove it in your scholarship application and you may get some financial help.

This is also the point where you need to realistically think about the length of time that you want to study for. To help you decide here are some example study durations for full-time study:

Find out more about: GMAT scores, how much it really costs to study abroad, scholarships.

Do your homework

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! Read university profiles, read university websites, find pictures of where you will be studying and build a good picture of what to expect.

What’s important to you?

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.

READ MORE: University Rankings Explained

How do you like to study?

Hopefully you have some idea by now of how you prefer to study. 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!

Look at your career prospects

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.

See also: How will studying abroad help your career prospects?

Focus on the detail

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 biomedical engineering to civil engineering. It is important to make sure you understand the differences between courses before you sign up. Even courses of the same title can vary in terms of subject matter between different universities, so it is worth reviewing modules that you will cover in your studies as well.

Remember, you can always change your mind

Deciding which course is for you is an important decision, but if you get there and you realize that you’ve made a mistake, it’s not too late. Talk to the student counsellor on campus, and see if there are better options for you there. If need be, you can always change courses or even change universities. Don’t spend the next three years of your life staring at textbooks that you have no interest in whatsoever. Keep the excitement of your study going and you will succeed!

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