Not everyone knows what they want to study at university. While some people have had their minds made up for years, others struggle to figure out exactly which course is right for them. With universities like UWS London offering such a wide range of courses, if you are unsure which direction you’re going in then it can feel overwhelming to commit to a particular subject, especially for international students spending 3 or 4 years abroad.
Subject and Course
Take a look at the latest International Students Survey and you can see that the subject is still the most important factor when it comes to studying choices, followed closely by course. Identifying a subject you are interested in with a promising-looking course is, therefore, the best way to pin down the best study path for you.
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of steps for both domestic and international students that will help you choose your ideal course, ready to shape your future.
Consider your future
You may have friends that have always known what they want to do in life. Some people have always wanted to be a medical doctor, for example, and this goal has informed their education choices. For others, an idea of their future career path may have come together in their teenage years after discovering their own strengths and weaknesses. And for some prospective university students and those furthering their education, it still remains unclear what the future may look like.
It may sound obvious, but without a particular aim, you may feel aimless. Therefore, in order to choose the right university course for you, it’s best to try and envision your future and what your dream career looks like. It can help to know what you don’t want to do too. You may dislike working alone, for example, and enjoy the hustle and bustle of a collaborative environment.
Your choice may be influenced by factors such as average salary, working environment, or type of work but it helps narrow down your options if you begin to know where you want to be later in life.
Some jobs will not require a specific degree either. Courses such as a BA in International Business are great for opening the door to lots more opportunities and are valued by lots of employers.
Think about what you enjoy
Your choice of course is going to be the main focus of your life for a few years. It’s important then to choose a course that you will enjoy and maintain interest in.
You’ll also be paying a considerable sum to study at university, especially for international students studying further from home and their support networks. Choosing a course you do not enjoy will make the financial commitment feel unjustified and can lead to stress that will impact your studies.
Making a list of the subjects and fields you do and don’t enjoy is a great way to identify possible career paths. With that in mind then, you can take a look at relevant courses and feel confident you are going to enjoy your time at university.
Identify your strengths and goals
It is also important to play to your own strengths. While working hard and studying more can get you so far with almost anything, choosing a course subject you are already good at is a surefire way to do well.
This shouldn’t be a source of discouragement, however. But, if you’ve found yourself struggling with the concepts and lessons of a particular subject such as mathematics in your prior education, it may mean you have a more stressful university experience.
Consider what subjects at school and college you enjoyed and were also adept at. These subjects are ideal for you to pursue at university as they hold your interest and you can excel rather than simply muddle through.
You should also factor into your considerations the way in which the course is assessed. Degrees are obtained in a lot of different ways. While most will involve essays, coursework, as well as exams, the ratio of each will vary. Some courses do away with exams too and instead choose to assess students solely on coursework and essays.
Think back to your prior education and establish what sort of assessment style you prefer. If exams were a source of anxiety that caused you to perform poorly, then consider looking for courses with more coursework. If you found the concentrated focus of an exam better for your learning, style, exam-centric courses might be better suited for you.
Don’t forget about entry requirements
While looking at courses and figuring out what subject you will enjoy and are good at, you need to bear in mind entry requirements.
Universities have different entry requirements for similar courses. It can be disappointing to think you’ve found the course of your dreams only to see it requires higher education grades or a prior degree that you don’t have.
If your grades are close but don’t quite make it, some universities will have ways of accommodating you. It’s always worth getting in touch with the university in these cases to explore your options.
Do your research
If you think you’ve found the right course for you, it’s time to do a bit of research.
While you may find the subject interesting and would be happy paying to complete the course, you should always look at what opportunities the course will bring. While some universities focus on career-building courses, others also offer degrees that have no immediate career path. These courses can be, in themselves, of great value, but it’s worth taking stock before such a large life commitment.
You’ll also want to explore the location of the university and consider if it’s right for you, especially for international students who will be experiencing everything new. For example, there will be unique benefits of studying in London, compared to studying in Manchester.
A lot of universities offer the ability to change courses should you feel you’ve made a mistake.
Doing this, however, often means playing catch-up with the new course, with other students usually a lot further ahead. This can have an impact on your grades and assessment and prove relatively stressful.
It’s important, then, to try and choose the right course for you the first time around. This is especially true for international students. Changing course on a Tier 4 student visa is more complicated than for domestic students. It also sometimes means getting permission from the UK Home Office.
Nevertheless, if you do wind up choosing a course you’re unhappy with, it’s important to discuss this university staff who can help you resolve the situation.
What not to do
Don’t study something you aren’t interested in
You may be tempted to choose a course based on it leading to a high-paying salary or how others will perceive you, despite not having an interest in the subject. These are not good reasons and your disinterest or dislike of a subject will eventually overcome your initial ambition.
Don’t follow your friends
When you don’t know what course to study, it can be tempting to simply choose what your friends are. At least that way you will know someone on your course and it can feel comforting to follow someone’s lead. However, going to university is about branching out and becoming your best self. Being bold and finding your own path is important and will lead to a happier, more confident you in the long term.
Resist pressure from family and friends
You may feel pressure from your family or peers to go down a particular educational path. Many families love the idea of a lawyer or doctor in the family and children can often grow up feeling the decision over their career has already been made for them.
It is important to resist this pressure, however, and, instead, choose a course that is right for you. Ultimately, it is you who will be the one studying, writing essays, doing coursework, and sitting exams. And it is you who will enjoy a career as a result. Your choice of course should reflect your ambition, not somebody else’s.