Deciding on a course can be tough. You need to think about what you want to study, how you want to do it and where, and whether it’s a realistic path towards your preferred career. There are big differences between courses, so how do you know you’re making the right choice?
There are many reasons on which to base your decision, but some are far smarter than others. To make sure you stay on the right path, here are some reasons to avoid.
You’re expecting a high score so you’re opting for a tough course
After working hard all through Year 12, you might be on track for a top-notch ATAR or OP. Although receiving a high score will open your options, avoid choosing a course just because it’s competitive. Opting for medicine only because you got the right marks is pointless if you’re not passionate about science, or if you’re squeamish. Bear in mind that cut-off scores don’t always reflect the difficulty of the course — a high entry score may just be an indication of the course’s popularity rather than its difficulty.
The field of work seems glamorous
Do your research to get an idea of what working in the field will be like. Talk to industry professionals and course coordinators for areas of interest (open days are great for this), as well as people employed in the industry. Getting real insight can make all the difference. Too often, students select courses based on assumptions that are more exciting or glamorous than the reality; for example, choosing medicine or law based on what they’ve seen on TV. Keep in mind that all courses and careers have pros and cons — the trick is to find a good balance, and one with negatives that you’re willing to put up with.
You’re feeling pressure to commit to a specific uni or course
Although a little bit of external pressure can give you the push you need to get through your final exams, don’t let parents, teachers, friends or others sway your decision when it comes to choosing a course or institution. These are decisions that affect your life, so you need to make them for yourself.
If you’re getting lots of pressure from parents to pursue a path that doesn’t interest you, you might want to invite them to open days or career expos. This will give them some insight into your decision-making process and open their minds to other career possibilities.
You’ve heard the job pays well
It’s a smart idea to look at graduate outcomes for courses you’re interested in (The Good Universities Guide ratings can help you there)! However, don't choose a course solely on expected salary, job growth or graduate employment rates — these could change by the time you finish studying. Choose a course and career that matches your interests and skillset, and the lifestyle you prefer.