Some of us know exactly what we want to do with our lives as soon as we’ve learned to speak. But let’s face it, most of us don’t have a clue what we’re going to next year, even as we’re completing high school.
But that is okay. Sometimes, a little timely counselling can help you to figure out the university program that you should be signing up for. That’s our effort here. An article can by no means cover the entire spectrum of courses that you could take up.
But we can only guide you in the direction of broad fields, and help you find answers to some important questions that will determine the subject you should take up.
Why are You Choosing a University Course?
Your research should begin by asking yourself the question: what are the factors that are important to me when I’m choosing my university course?
In other words, will you pick a course based on its job prospects, or your passion for the subject, or your future plans, the career trajectory you’ve planned for yourself, and your budget? According to the following:
What Subject Should You Choose?
There are mainly two things you need to think about when picking your subject: what is a subject you enjoy and what are your career goals? Will the subject help you reach your career goals?
Now this question is not always easy to answer off the bat. Your favourite subject could be history and you may want to pick a career that pays enough so that you can take several vacations around the world each year. And it may seem like there aren’t a lot of options for history graduates in terms of high-paying jobs.
But when you look closely, you’ll see that if instead of focusing on events and dates, you focus on the skills that you can learn – such as analysing trends over time, identifying patterns, reading government documents – you open yourselves up to a lot of potentially high-paying jobs.
This applies to any subject. If it’s “too academic”, you could always plan for higher studies such as a PhD, and aim for research positions or teaching jobs.
To pick your subject, you could also think about what you enjoy doing outside school. It could become part of your future job. You could take a look at some job sites and graduate career choices to come after your course is over. You can find subject guides very useful to help you make a choice.
What’s Your Budget?
Your budget will play a big role in the type of course you choose. If you’re also working while you study, you’ll need to factor that into your choices. University programs can be expensive. But at the same time, you can find scholarships and grants for higher studies, offered by the universities themselves, or private institutions. Of course, costs will also depend on the cost of living in the country you’re studying in.
If you’re on a budget, you’ll want to note that the US has some of the highest average tuition costs among the 35 member countries of the OECD. In the US, college costs over $8000 on average. Germany, on the other hand, is very welcoming of international students with free tuition at public universities.
In Australia, the average tuition fees are $4763 a year (at the bachelor level). In contrast, in Austria, it is just $914. Canada rates are similar to Australia. If you can learn the Italian language, then you could get an Italian education for less than $1700 a year.
Among the Scandinavian countries, only Norway has made higher education free for foreign students, so that’s an option as well.
How Much Time Do You Have?
Keeping your budget and other responsibilities in mind, you’ll want to think about how you’ll study. You may think that you can only study full-time, and your job may hold you back from enrolling in a university. But that’s not true.
Depending on your circumstances, you can find part-time programs, distance learning and what is called blended learning, where you can learn through a combination of classroom lessons and online and electronic media. These types of programs are great to learn at your own pace.
Then there are accelerated degrees in some universities, where instead of the usual four-year or three-year course like the other students, you can graduate a year earlier. If you begin to work right after graduation, you may also be able to find learning programs to improve yourself at your workplace. A lot of the vocational courses will allow you to join the professional workforce soon after you finish your studies.
As you can see, there are plenty of options depending on where you want to go and what you want to do. Start your research early and you’ll have a high chance of narrowing down your options to a course that’s the perfect fit for you.
What are Your Career Goals?
Do you want to start a business of your own? You should study business, of course. Do you want to cure cancer, reduce pollution or fight world food crises? You should study engineering or science subjects. Are you curious about human psychology through history or how groups of people behave? A cross-departmental program or dual degrees in the sciences and arts may be good for you. Depending on the college you go to, your options are many.
Here we emphasize how important it is to find a college that is the right fit for you. We recommend that you check out the campus to find out if you’re the right fit. Never enrol simply based on rankings or other good things you hear about the college. There may be a highly ranked college where you don’t feel like you fit into the college culture. On the other hand, there may be a good college in a small college town where you feel right at home.
If you absolutely can’t make it to an open house, we recommend at least getting a virtual tour of the campus. Many online websites provide campus tours of thousands of colleges around the world.
What are the Current Job Prospects?
Run research on the current job prospects for your chosen subject. You need to make sure that as soon as you graduate, you’ll find a job to pay off any student debts and living expenses. Look at job listings related to your chosen subject before you pick a course, and decide whether or not it will suit your needs and goals.
What is the Future of Your Field?
There are some fields that are slated to boom in the future in terms of job prospects. The medical field has plenty of potential for growth. Nurse practitioners, certified nurse anaesthetists, physician assistants are some of the less-demanding jobs in the medical field that are in great demand.
IT analysts, software architects, engineers and systems engineers will be in great demand in the next decade as the world becomes increasingly more techno-savvy. There will continue to be a great demand for actuaries, accountants and financial advisors, no matter what kind of a world we live in three decades on.
The fields of education, technical jobs in medicine and veterinary medicine, business services jobs like construction estimator and environmental health specialist jobs are also going to boom. Sales, consulting, risk management jobs, engineering jobs etc. will always be in demand. The choice is now yours.
Before you choose your course of study, you have to do a lot of the right kind of research. Don’t just look at the reviews and rankings, but those are important too.
You may also want to study abroad because sometimes programs abroad are cheaper than in your home country. Plus, you get the chance to live and learn in a foreign culture, which comes with its own set of skill-building opportunities.
Most importantly, make sure to choose a course that you’re actually interested in. Because there’s nothing as wasteful as being stuck in a course that you don’t enjoy and that you don’t use in your career. Good luck!