How to know which university degree is right for you?

University degree

The question we have faced since starting on our academic journeys, with the intimidating eyes from your parents and the pressure of needing to know, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Alternatively, there’s the more evolved approach, “Where are your studies going to take you?” So how do you tackle the daunting decision of which degree is right for you?

I won’t sugar coat it – it is tough – and naturally there will be panic involved. It is a stressful thing to decide which degree you are going to commit years of your life to. So, from someone who has been dredged through that process, hopefully I can shed some light on the situation.

If I can provide one piece of crucial information it is to embrace your obliviousness. I know you think you’re expected to know everything by now – I mean, it’s only what our secondary teachers have been drilling into us since we started our senior years – but the truth is, you’re not. Especially when it comes to University and Tertiary education.

Unless, of course, you’ve had your eyes on that dream career since your parents gave you your first plastic stethoscope, then congratulations, you’re one of the lucky ones. But, if you’re like me, you didn’t have the slightest clue. And that is okay. There are whole faculties and bodies employed to help you reach that dreaded decision. Literally, there is endless support networks at your service, the trick is to know how to use them.

That being said, now is the time in our young adult lives to fly the nest a little further. So, a little independence is required. The next few years of your academic life will only be as impassioned as you allow them to be. Sure, if you’re one of those monotonous individuals that can commit to 4 years of a degree you’re not all that interested in, but, “it will pay well”, I envy you. But take it from someone who spent a year of her University life in a degree that was not a good fit, study where your passions lie. I can’t stress it enough. There are hundreds of degrees, some of which you can literally tailor to your needs – so, take time with your decision. You’re laying down the foundation for the rest of your adult life.

Explore your options. I have witnessed numerous friends commit to a specific University or degree because of the success rates or rankings of a university, only to reach mid- year and wondering why they’re not doing as well as expected. But, the trick isn’t the University you’re enrolled in or degree you’re studying, it is about how you adapt to your studies and your individual attempts within them.

Take tours of multiple Universities and their campuses; attend the orientation weeks as well as information sessions, collect brochures, course guides, ask questions, talk with students and staff and hear it first-hand. Nothing is too drastic when you’re signing away a significant amount of time of your adult life, not to mention the costs.

What facilities are available on the campuses? Of course you want to look at the practical facilities available for your course, but, don’t forget to look at food options, gyms, medical centers, libraries, media rooms, anything you deem necessary. Part of the reason I decided to study at the University of Adelaide was for their library. More specifically their Rare Books & Special Collections foyer.

For those of Indigenous heritage, are there faculties there to support you? For myself, being a young Australian Aboriginal woman, it was incredibly important to seek comfort in my Indigenous family. Wirltu Yarlu Aboriginal Education at the University of Adelaide became a home away from home.

Transportation, how will you get there, can you use public transport? If you plan to drive are there parking options around the campuses and what are the costs of these? Travel time? If you were super rural like I was, residential colleges may be an option for you. Which leads me to student accommodation in Adelaide. If you’re planning on making the big move, I can’t recommend a residential college enough. Residing at Lincoln for my first year of my studies gave me a foundation for my academic future as well as creating endless opportunities for global friendships and academic advancement. If you’re thinking of making the big move to be closer to University, have a look around potential neighborhoods and do some research.

University can be ethically as well as physically challenging, I’m not here to lie to you, but trust me when I say it can also be some of the best years of your life. Your time at University is purely reflective of your efforts and engagements during that time. Converse with different individuals, join in with those extracurricular clubs even if it is so far out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to test the waters of new experiences and most importantly remain open minded throughout your studies as you may be surprised where your new perspectives can lead you. And, most importantly, chose a degree which is right for you.

Written by Billie Greatbatch, Lincoln Resident 2016