How to choose what to study at Uni?
You have been asked the same question since you were a child, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. Now, as you sit at your computer, staring at an intimidating number of University browser tabs, it sinks in. You have no idea what to study.
How are you supposed to begin making this decision of what to study at Uni? It can be daunting, to say the least. After all, this is your entire future. Pick a course, pick a career, and pick a life. No pressure.
My experience choosing what to study at Uni
One of my biggest frustrations was the internal battle between choosing a course that appeared interesting (yet would leave me with limited career options), and a course that would result in many future opportunities, but one I had little interest in.
To add to the dilemma, every year Universities increase the already prodigious number of courses available, making the search seem like a never ending quest.
You could spend hour’s relentlessly scouring course curriculums and. However, before you spend your night chained to your laptop, desperately researching the difference between a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Science (Science), there are a few simple steps to make this process bearable.
What should I study at Uni Step 1: A storm in a field.
Start with brainstorming (mind maps are my personal favourite). Write down any career you have an interest in, regardless of practicality. For me, that list included doctor, nurse, actor, author, wall street banker (I had watched the film a few days earlier), bar owner, and paramedic.
Once you have your list of potential careers, assign which field of study would be required for each of them. This can provide you with a clearer picture of a field you are more inclined to study.
What should I study at Uni Step 2: Weed out the weak.
Once you have your list of prospective professions and fields, it’s time to cull. Be ruthless. A handy tool to use during this process is a pro/con list. Leave yourself with your top three or four dream jobs, and take note of which fields of study they fall under. I was left with doctor, nurse, actor, and author. It was a fifty/fifty split between science and art.
What should I study at Uni Step 3: Passion vs Prospects
If you’re lucky, you may find your intended course(s) of study also result in a range of career opportunities. More often than not, the fields we have a passion for do not come with a guarantee of success or employment, and for people like myself, we must make a difficult decision. For this step, ask yourself if want to study for a career and stability, or do you want to study for your own knowledge and broadening of your mind?
What should I study at Uni Step 4: Choose a path.
Once you know what field to study, it is time to narrow down the course itself. Take into consideration your own lifestyle – will you be working part time, full time, not at all? Can you commit to a full course load, or only part time? Are you someone who needs a classroom to learn, or can you motivate yourself to study online? These are all important points to contemplate when deliberating.
Generally speaking, the vast amount of courses that fall under the same field (eg: Arts, Science, Engineering), have similar first year units to complete. I studied a year towards a Bachelor of Nursing, before transferring into a Bachelor of Preclinical Human Bio, and then switching into a Bachelor of Science (Public Health). All three involved many of the same first and second year units, so although I prolonged graduating, the majority of my completed units were credited with each shift.
My lifestyle was the deciding factor in why I have been a course switcher numerous times. As a mature aged student, I had a desire to study nursing and pre-clinical human biology, unfortunately both course loads involved internal classes and practical assessments. As I am employed full time, and rely on a salary to support myself, I could not commit to the weekly in person commitments. After researching once again, I happily settled into a course stream that offered external units, meaning I could have the best of both worlds.
What should I study at Uni Step 5: Breathe, because nothing is set in stone.
From a veteran course switcher, the best advice I can give you is to remember that all decisions can be altered. For any path you choose, you have the power to turn around and walk in another direction. I believe motivation and consistency are persuasive factors on a student’s academic success, so studying a course that both interests and inspires you can positively influence those behaviours.