Updated: 12 hours ago
Feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin when it comes to choosing a university course? Well, I am here to help!
As we come toward the end of our high school journey, there is often plenty of pressure applied to figuring out the ‘right’ next step. It is likely that you will have a range of opinions being voiced during this time that is already stressful and uncertain. There are deadlines to meet, applications to write, and preferences to choose from and it can all come crashing when it feels like you are all alone in the decision-making process. Fear not, I was in the very same boat just a few years ago, and these are the top tips that helped me pick my degree (and I love it)!
1. Write a List of Activities/Things you Enjoy
Start this part early – whether you’re a couple of years away from year 12 or it’s the beginning of year 12, my advice is to start this list as soon as possible! I recommend that you write down activities or things or even conversation topics that you have had where time has seemingly disappeared. Yep, that’s right – what is something you do where time has no meaning whatsoever? Can you spend the whole day doing something and not think about anything else? If yes, write it down! These lists can be as broad or as specific as you’d like. It does not necessarily even have to fit into a university course category. For example, in my list, I wrote down activities such as watching the news (I know, very nerdy) which eventually translated into a Bachelor of International Relations.
2. Think about your Strengths and Weaknesses
I love being organised so in the same book where I had my list written, I just turned over a page and made a little table, but you can even do this on your notes on your phone. Do not limit yourself to academic strengths and weaknesses or cliches. Think hard and think deeply about this one. I would even recommend asking someone who knows you well – whether that is a friend or a parent or a sibling – ask what he or she thinks your strengths and weaknesses are. Mine included points such as being emotionally invested in my work and the people I interact with – whilst this required some higher-order thinking, it really helped me understand what work environments I would be able to thrive in whilst ruling out ones that I would likely find all-encompassing and draining. This led to me picking a Bachelor of Laws.
3. Do some Research!
This part can feel a little difficult for some, but most universities now have an abundance of information on their courses, their teaching staff as well as their student experience. I would personally not concentrate too hard on the latter two points at this stage, but it is definitely worth considering the information provided on their courses. You can spend hours doing this but be wise with your time. Look at specifics such as entry requirements, course duration and structure and depending on your circumstances and situation, whether the university offers scholarships, delivers multi-modal classes and so forth. Again, add this to your ‘black book’.
4. Ask Others
Word of mouth is honestly the best way information spreads. If you have anyone in your life currently going to university, have a chat with them or speak to your school guidance counsellor depending on what advice you are after. I was lucky enough that the universities I was looking to apply to, had a feature available where I could have a conversation with current students. The students were honest and open and most of all, gave me an insight into the culture of the university, the lifestyle they lead, the support systems in place and the teaching staff. If you are feeling brave, I would email a university I am interested in and ask for more information (on multiple different courses).
5. Trust Your Gut
The worst thing you can do is succumb to pressure. This is a big decision, but it is your decision to make. Whilst it is important to listen to others' opinions and advice, the best thing you can do for yourself is to make a judgement call on what feels right. Australian universities have many systems in place that even allow an easy transition to change, jump and swap university courses and it often comes with the added bonus of being able to transfer credit points – specifically in your first year of the course. Remember, it is not an ‘end all’ decision but ensures that you take autonomy over your own life – for instance, people told me studying a double degree will be too challenging but I still chose to study a Bachelor of Laws and International Relations. Don't get me wrong, there are days when it can be really hard, but when you are interested in what you are studying, I guarantee your university experience will automatically be one that you love!
If you are still feeling stuck, feel free to reach out to one of our academic specialists at Concept. Best of Luck!
Your IB Academic Director,