Want to study?
In this article we provide information to help you choose the RIGHT course.
Whether you are thinking about studying at college, at university or online this article can help you choose what to study and where. Below are 5 tips on how to choose a course:
1. Choose a direction
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
An extract from the novel, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
If you don’t know where you want to go in life then it will be difficult for you to get there. Luckily, most of us have an idea as to what we would like to experience and achieve. This idea may be obvious or it may be that you have no idea as to what you want to experience and achieve. If you know what you want to do after college/university look into the skills and qualifications you’ll need.
If you don’t know what you want to do then think about:
(a) what you enjoy
(b) what you would enjoy learning
(c) the industries and jobs available in the location you would like to work
There is little point in spending time and money studying something that is not going to take you where you want to go. It is therefore important to spend time now thinking about what you want to do in the future.
2. Research courses
2.1 What to research
It is important to understand that courses with the same name can be completely different. Make sure your chosen course covers modules that are right for you and will help you where you want to go. A course or module title is one thing but the unit guide (or equivalent) for each module is the best source of information. Talk to people at events and attend open days and ask lots of questions about the course. Do not be afraid to call admission department for additional information or advice if required. It is also worth checking with the relevant professional bodies (PICPA, IIEEetc) to see what qualifications are required (and if any exemptions are offered) if you are thinking about a career in these fields.
2.2 Entry requirements
Learn more about the course, the qualifications you’ll need and what the university is looking for in their students. Check the entry criteria carefully, not just for qualifications but for any other criteria you might need to meet, like an interview.
Assessment is a key part of most courses so it is vital that you how the course is assessed before starting a course – exams, coursework, presentations etc – what do you prefer? Do your research now so you know what to expect.
3. Research course providers
You have done your research and know what exactly course you want to study, the qualification you will obtain on completion and what your employment prospects will be at the end of it – now you need to choose the right college or university.
3.1 General considerations
- Is the college or university recognised and respected by employers?
- Does the college or university offer internships or work placement opportunities?
- What is the accommodation like? Is it affordable?
- What are the sport and cultural facilities like?
- What support will you need and will it be available?
- Does it have good facilities and a good library?
- Are books, journals, computers, printers etc readily available?
- How near home or a city centre is it?
Cost is a BIG factor that must be considered when choosing a course and course provider. Whilst tuition fees vary from provider to provider it is important that you remember to consider ALL the costs of a course. In addition to tuition fees you should consider the cost of accommodation, travel, books, stationary, IT hardware and software costs etc.
3.3 Financial Aid & Scholarships
The availability of financial aid and scholarships is also something to think about. Some colleges and universities offer scholarships and/or financial aid to help cover the cost of education. In addition, you may be eligible for things such as grants, government loans, and/or work-study opportunities. Not all colleges or universities offer scholarships or financial aid and they can have strict guidelines which you will need to check out.
4. Compare & Contrast
Sometimes seeing information in a table can help you to compare, contrast and score different courses and course providers.
Make a simple table with all the colleges and/or universities you have in mind and compare each across a range of different requirements that are important to you. This could include: course suitability, library facilities, student teacher ratio, tuition fees, computer and printing facilities, sports facilities, social clubs, accommodation fees, college/university location, links with employers and careers service etc etc.
The university you choose should be the right one for you, not the right one for others.
5. Ask for advice
It is a good idea to talk through your ideas with family, friends, teachers or advisers before making your final decision. You may also want to do some online research checking out forums for course information, advice and opinions from other students.
Find out more
We hope that this information will be of assistance to you. To find more useful articles from PhilCareers please visit: Careers Advice