This guide is all about Passion, Interests, Abilities, Qualities (personality type). Your passion for your course, and for your future career. Because the secret to happiness is being able to love whatever it is you do in life.

And what does this all have to do with choosing the right course for you? It all starts here. Find the right course, at the right university or college, and you will be inspired to succeed.

So how do you make the right choice?

Tip #1: Why?

The most important consideration when choosing your course is asking yourself why you are looking to study.

Do you want to further your career by extending your skill set? If this is the case you should choose a course in a subject that is a natural progression of your existing skills and qualifications. If the aim is to progress further with your current employer selecting a course that is relevant to your work is recommended. Discussing study options with your peers, teachers, family, colleagues or employer can help to determine what qualification will help with your career.

Are you looking to diversify your knowledge or change career path completely? Studying may be necessary if you are looking to change career. If this is your motivation for studying it is important that you consider what career you wish to pursue. Studying can be expensive, so be sure to fully research any prospective career.

In summary:

  • Think about your existing abilities, skill set, or experience
  • Consider prospective careers and employment opportunities.
  • Think about what subjects interest you.
  • Take a career/vocational assessment to identify your strengths, interests and personality
  • Talk to your teachers, family, mentor, or peers about which courses are relevant and may improve your career.

…the secret to happiness is being able to love whatever it is you do in life.

Top tip #2:What are you really interested in?

If your progressing from high school to college, then It’s really important to think about what you are interested in, and what course you want to study. Is it because you can see your exciting, glittering career ahead? Or is it because it’s what your parents want? By questioning yourself now, you can work out the exact path you want your course to take you on.

Tip #3: Where would you like to study?

Which college or university specialises in this subject area?

It’s also a good idea to ask yourself: would you wish to study a supplementary course e.g. a certificate course or diploma alongside your main course.

Tip #4: Take a reality check

Now that you have identified your desired dream course, let’s just stop a minute and make sure it’s realistic. Can you afford the tuition and cost of living? Do you qualify for student loan, or are your reliant on family to finance your studies? Review your financial options realistically

Top tip #5: Do your homework

You need to narrow down all your options to about three real, practical choices. That takes a lot of research.

It is advisable to consider taking a career/vocational assessment, from which you are able to identify your personality profile, Interests, abilities, values, and possible areas of study that are matched to your personality and natural strengths.

Go further and read student blogs to see what it’s really like, or find students who have studied similar courses, or seek professional mentorship or coaching for better clarity on your choices.

Top tip #6: What’s important to you?

While you are researching, you’ll come up with all kinds of different criteria to judge a university or course by. So make a shortlist of the top three features you’re looking for. These could be school ranking or prestige, research facilities, practical experience and internships, cost of tuition, student support services, safety, social life, … there are so many variables, and what’s right for you may be completely wrong for someone else.

Top tip #7: How do you like to study?

Hopefully you have some idea by now of how you prefer to study. And hopefully the answer is not ‘by sleeping’ or ‘by crossing my fingers as I walk into the exam hall.’ Some people prefer final exams, others like regular assignments to keep them busy throughout the year. Some like theory, others like practical hands-on application, some like to work in groups, others like to work individually. Some like to present their assignment verbally, others prefer to create written reports. Choose a course that suits your study style, and you will be more confident in your success. Or, if you want to challenge yourself, choose a course that will take you out of your comfort zone!

Top tip #8: Look at your career prospects

Find out what jobs fit your major or area of study, and if there’s an active alumni network, or the opportunity to meet industry leaders during your course.

Top tip #9: Focus on the detail

Every subject has so many different options, so it’s good to know the most specific interest you have. Engineering students could study anything from bio-medical engineering to civil engineering. So if you’d rather build bridges than human body parts, understand that before you sign up.

Top tip #10: You can always change your mind

Yes, this is an important decision. But if you get there and you realise you’ve made a terrible mistake, it’s not too late. Talk to the student counsellor on campus, and see if there are better options for you there. Don’t spend the next five years of your life staring at textbooks you have no interest in whatsoever. Remember, it’s all about your passion, abilities and alignment to your strengths – keep the excitement alive, and you will succeed!

You need to narrow down all your options to about three real, practical choices. That takes a lot of research.

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