Top tip #1: Why?
The most important consideration when choosing your course is asking yourself why you are looking to study.
Do you want to further your career by extending your skill set? If this is the case you should choose a course in a subject that is a natural progression of your existing skills and qualifications. If the aim is to progress further with your current employer selecting a course that is relevant to your work is recommended. Discussing study options with your peers, colleagues or employer can help to determine what qualification will help with your career.
Are you looking to diversify your knowledge or change career path completely? Studying may be necessary if you are looking to change career. If this is your motivation for studying it is important that you consider what career you wish to pursue. Studying can be expensive, so be sure to fully research any prospective career.
- Think about your existing experience and skill set.
- Consider prospective careers and employment opportunities.
- Think about what subjects interest you.
- Talk to your employer, colleagues or peers about which courses are relevant and may improve your career.
Top tip #2:What are you really interested in?
It’s really important to think about what you are interested in, and what course you want to study. Is it because you can see your exciting, glittering career ahead? Or is it because it’s what your parents want? By questioning yourself now, you can work out the exact path you want your course to take you on.
Top tip #3: Where would you like to study?
There are really two parts to this. Where is the best country to specialise in this subject area? Maybe it’s a country with plenty of internship and graduate work opportunities in that industry. Or a city that has access to specific resources. If you’re interested in marine biology, why not head straight to the world’s largest coral reef in Australia and learn right at the source?
It’s also a good idea to ask yourself: where in the world would you love to live for a few years? This is an opportunity to learn a new language and a new culture, make new friends, and experience a different way of life. And if you’re happy in your life, you’ll be happy in your study.
Top tip #4: Take a reality check
Now that you have found your dream, let’s just stop a minute and make sure it’s realistic. Can you afford the flights, tuition and cost of living? Do you need to have certain qualifications first – English language proficiency, GMAT scores? Don’t get discouraged – a pathway program may be all you need to cross those hurdles. If this really is your passion, prove it in your scholarship application and you may get some financial help.
This is also the point where you need to realistically think about long you want to study for. To help you decide here are some example study durations for full-time study:
- Postgraduate Certificate – 6 months
- Undergraduate Degree – 3 years
- MA – 1 year
- PhD – 4 years
Top tip #5: Do your homework
You need to narrow down all your options to about five real, practical choices. That takes a lot of research. A StudyLink course search is a good place to start! Read student blogs to see what it’s really like. Glossy prospectuses don’t always tell you the full story, so talk to people you know who have studied in that country or city about what it’s really like.
SEE ALSO: Our Student Stories Blog
Top tip #6: What’s important to you?
While you are researching, you’ll come up with all kinds of different criteria to judge a university or course by. So make a shortlist of the top three features you’re looking for. These could be school ranking or prestige, research facilities, practical experience and internships, cost of tuition, student support services, safety, social life, chance to travel… there are so many variables, and what’s right for you may be completely wrong for someone else.
Top tip #7: How do you like to study?
Hopefully you have some idea by now of how you prefer to study. And hopefully the answer is not ‘by sleeping’ or ‘by crossing my fingers as I walk into the exam hall.’ Some people prefer final exams, others like regular assignments to keep them busy throughout the year. Some like theory, others like practical hands-on application, some like to work in groups, others like to work individually. Some like to present their assignment verbally, others prefer to create written reports. Choose a course that suits your study style, and you will be more confident in your success. Or, if you want to challenge yourself, choose a course that will take you out of your comfort zone!
Top tip #8: Look at your career prospects
Studying overseas can be expensive, so think of it as an investment in your future. And that means your career and your salary. Find out where other international students at that university have worked after graduation, and if there’s an active alumni network, or the opportunity to meet industry leaders during your course.
Top tip #9: Focus on the detail
Every subject has so many different options, so it’s good to know the most specific interest you have. Engineering students could study anything from bio-medical engineering to civil engineering. So if you’d rather build bridges than human body parts, understand that before you sign up.
Top tip #10: You can always change your mind
Yes, this is an important decision. But if you get there and you realise you’ve made a terrible mistake, it’s not too late. Talk to the student counsellor on campus, and see if there are better options for you there. Don’t spend the next five years of your life staring at textbooks you have no interest in whatsoever. Remember, it’s all about your passion – keep the excitement alive, and you will succeed!