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How to choose the right degree

10 December 2021
Hundreds of courses, so many possibilities!
There are many reasons to study at university, and many answers too. It can feel overwhelming to make just one choice. Here are a few things to think about when choosing your degree.

For many, university is the natural next stage in your life. You might be fresh from high school or returning from a gap year. Whatever your reasons, choosing a degree could be one of the most important decisions of your life. So, we’ve rounded up a few tips to help you make your decision.

What are you interested in?

I really can be that simple. The likelihood that you will complete your degree if you are interested in the subject area, is much greater than if you choose a degree based on your ATAR results.

Most undergraduate degrees tend to fall under two categories – generalist and vocational. The vocational degrees like nursing, teaching, engineering, architecture – are grounded in practical skills. They are often the first step to becoming accredited in a profession.

Generalist degrees like arts and sciences offer you the opportunity to pursue your interests in a much broader way. While also allowing you to balance subjects that give you the intellectual fuel to think about the world in a new way.

While it is important to ensure your degree gives you practical, job-ready skills – it is also important to get a well-rounded skill set to help you meet the problems of the future – while also enjoying yourself in the process!

What flexible study options are available?

Many University of Sydney degrees can be tailored to fit your needs, which will equip you with both the theory and practical skills you need to make an impact in your first role after graduation.

Have you thought about studying a double degree or a double major? Or, maybe pursue research options? At Sydney, there are opportunities for internships and professional work placements in your chosen industry as part of your course, and many exchange programs to consider. 

We offer many courses that fit both remote and on-campus learning. Many vocational-style degrees are better suited to on-campus study, as practical learning is a big part of the course.

It’s also worth considering how you can shape the degree format to suit your needs and what you’re hoping to achieve out of your qualification.

Are there alternate pathways to get into my course?

So you’ve found your dream course, but the way to get there isn’t as straightforward as your ATAR.

These days, your ATAR is just one of many ways to get into university. You can enrol in a similar course for the first six months to a year, then transfer your learning credits into the course you wanted to pursue in the first place – which often renders your ATAR not that important after all.

It’s important to keep an open mind, as many students choose to transfer into an entirely new subject area after their first year, simply because their dream course didn’t actually turn out to be The Dream after all.

There are also a wealth of scholarships to suit just about anyone at every stage of study. The other thing to think about is that your future employer won’t ask about your ATAR – only that you’ve got the skills and passion to make an impact in a way that matters.

What is the culutre at university like?

Going to university is more than just study. It is the clubs and societies, the facilities, your lecturers, the campus itself. You’re learning about yourself too in this next phase of your life – not just learning from your professors and tutors.

The campus location where most of your classes will take place can also influence how your life outside of the class will be like. Is it easy to get to? Will you need to live on campus or is the commute time bearable? What’s campus life like? What’s the vibe?

Make time to attend Info Day and online and in-person events. We have loads of events throughout the year, so make time to explore your options.

Why are you studying?

It’s a basic question with a lot of answers that will change and flip over time. You’re not going to be the same person you were when you start university, so it’s important to be open to that possibility and ask yourself what your reasons are for choosing a course. Why are you studying this degree?

Are you looking to help developing nations, help cure cancer, rethink the way we look at the world, solve a very specific problem in a very specific way, or simply work in your dream industry? How will the degree you choose help you do that?

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