Deciding what to study

Choosing what to study isn't easy. There are many things to consider and the sheer amount of choices to make along the way can be overwhelming. We've come up with four steps to help you answer the question: what should I study?

Consider your career goal

Picking a uni course is usually influenced by your career aspirations. If you already have a specific career goal, that's great. If you don't, think about your skills, hobbies and interests. For example, if you like animals, careers in veterinary science or zoology may be the right fit. Thinking about the types of tasks and responsibilities you want to take on can also be helpful. Do you like writing, creating or helping people? Do you like to travel? Consider how you can align your passions to your career.

Just keep in mind that a career search is more than just recognising what you like to do. You need to keep an open mind and consider the areas in which you'll be able to make a career, as well as the skill level required.

Identify your options

Whether you've finished high school or are giving mature age or postgraduate study some consideration, the first step is to make sure you understand your options. Our advice is to start by thinking about the career goal you've identified above and move onto exploring the opportunities available. Be sure to take a look at the full menu of options too, as there are many. Engineering, for instance, includes a huge number of specialisations ” civil, electrical and mechanical are just a small selection.

Next, consider the level of study required and the institution you'd like to attend. Will you need to study in the vocational sector, complete a degree or follow a path through to postgraduate study? Are you heading to a university, vocational provider (such as a TAFE) or a private college? Going to university open days is a good start, and don't forget that our university rankings and ratings provide great insight too.

Entry requirements, such as an ATAR or subject prerequisites, and study costs are also very important. Remember that entry requirements vary considerably between institutions, even in the same field of study.

Sort through your options

If you have a long list of options to consider, now is the time to begin sorting through them. First, compare the most desirable courses to see which is most appropriate. Would you prefer a course that offers industry experience or one with a focus on theory and research? Is there a course lower on your list that could provide a valuable back-up pathway into your desired profession? Are there courses you can eliminate from your wish list?

It's crucial to consider how courses of interest align to your career aspirations. Are you choosing a course because jobs tend to pay well in the field? Or are you genuinely passionate about a particular type of work?

Make your decision

Now that you've taken a closer look at your options, it's time to make your choice. If you're still not sure what to study, remember that support is available. You can read through the helpful articles on this website, visit a career adviser or get in touch with support and administrative staff at institutions of interest. If settling on a career path is the issue, you can take a gap year to continue thinking about your options, pick a generalist degree with the intention of pursuing further study, or try out a lower-level qualification such as a certificate.

Of course, you can change your mind ” nothing is set in stone.

Useful links:

Become a member

Already a member? LoginForgot password?

Join the conversation