Choosing a university course, the key that unlocks your future career path, at the age of 18 is no easy feat. It’s difficult, as a young adult, to imagine where you will be in three years’ time, not to mention what kind of person you will be and how your perspectives might change in that time.
More often than not, students decide upon a certain course, not because they want to, but because they have external influences such as parents or teachers telling them it is a good starting point for a reliable career path. And, whilst that’s always an important factor to consider, you should keep in mind that it’s you who has to study said course over the next three, possibly even four, years. And, at the end of the day, it’s your future career on the line - no one else’s. So though these external opinions are usually well-intentioned, it’s ultimately down to you to choose the right course for you.
In this post, we’re detailing a few important things to keep in mind when it comes to narrowing down your course choices. There is truly an array of factors to consider, so try not to make too hasty of a decision. Take a deep breath, do your homework, and find the perfect course for you.
1. Ask yourself why you want to study in the first place.
Perhaps one of the most important things to consider when it comes to narrowing down your course choices is the reason why you actually want to study and further your education in the first place. Sure, the majority of people want to get their degree to secure a great career and have a reliable income once they graduate from university. But, believe it or not, as well as that, everyone has their own, personal reasons for attending university. You might want to study to better yourself, further explore your interests, or to plain and simply get ahead in your chosen career field.
At the end of the day, putting yourself through university is an expensive process, not to mention one that can truly change you as a person. As such, it’s important to truly understand what attending university means to you, and why you want to further your education. Once you start to unpack these reasons, you’ll soon get a better understanding of which course is right for you.
2. Study what you enjoy, not what you think you should study.
As mentioned before, many students decide on courses that they think they should study, not necessarily what they want to study. Perhaps because of external influence from parents or teachers, or perhaps the pressure to opt for a certain course because of the career prospects. Whilst career prospects are an undoubtedly important factor, choosing a course that you don’t love, and have no motivation or passion for, only makes university a tougher process than it already is.
Unless you have a very particular future career in mind and need to study a specific course to achieve your goals, the best approach to choosing your university course is to go with what you love. You’ll often find that you’ll work that much harder if you’re passionate about your degree.
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3. Consider your career prospects.
Of course, your career prospects will play a part in narrowing down your course choices and, hopefully by this stage, you have at least a vague idea of what kind of career you want to pursue. Even if you don’t have a specific career in mind just yet, you should keep in mind that some courses tend to lead to more specialised jobs, where others can be tailored for many careers.
If you have your sights set on a specific graduate scheme at the end of university, take a look at their requirements and factor this into your early decision-making process. Additionally, you can always look into the graduate employment rates for certain courses at different institutions to see which are amongst the most likely to lead to promising opportunities after you have graduated.
4. Compare courses.
Although various universities will offer similar courses, upon further inspection you will often find that the actual course content itself can vary a great deal. When narrowing down your choices, take a look into the modules offered and what you will actually learn on the course - which ones are obligatory, and do they fit within your vision?. As well, how much are you taking on? Some courses will offer 10 hours lectures per week, whereas others will offer a up to 30 hours per week plus all the additional studying you are expected to do.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects to compare is the methods of assessments within each course - do you clam up at the thought of exams? If so, don’t panic, because there will be a course out there suited to you, likely with more essays, labs or vocational assessments than exams.
5. Don’t be led by university rankings alone.
Whilst university rankings are important to a certain extent, and can be a great source of information, try not to get too hung up on them. They are great for a snapshot of information on things such as student satisfaction, graduate prospects and entry requirements. That being said, you should never be led by them alone when it comes to narrowing down your course choices. The main reason being is because, just because it’s not at the top of a league table, doesn’t mean it’s not right for you. The factors that should come into play when making your decision are more so the ones mentioned above, as at the end of the day, you have to spend the next three or four years studying this subject. You have to make sure that it ignites passion in you, and no league table can determine that for you.