How to choose a degree when you’re unsure
There’s so much pressure to choose your career straight out of high school – how do you know if you’ve gotten it right? We’ve compiled some essential tips on how to choose an undergraduate degree when you’re just not sure, that should ease even the most worried mind.
Consume all the information
First-hand experience of your favourite universities is essential in making the right choices. Visit universities on their open days to get a feel for the college campus and to find out about student life.
Universities with great social calendars can give you respite from working hard at your degree, and often means you’ll enjoy the experience more. This is especially important for international or interstate students.
Read. As much as you can. Grab university course guides, check out the course website and just find as much information as possible. You don’t want to choose a degree only to figure out it’s not what you thought it was!
Pro-tip: Don’t neglect O-Weeks! Even if you’ve made the plunge and chosen a degree, it’s useful to attend orientation weeks to familiarise yourself with the academic and social resources you can use to get the most out of your experience.
UTS Career Development Manager, Sam Berry knows the value of spending time at O-Week. “University Orientation weeks are a fantastic opportunity to become familiar with the many support services and networks available so that you can meet new people, make a positive start towards a great career, and make the most of your time at uni.”
If the first step hasn’t cleared up the fog for you, hop on to some degree guide websites. There’s a few set up with the same premise – students can rate the university, campus and course on this forum so you’ll get a good dose of honest feedback.
Pro-tip: Try University Reviews for even more in depth info – like the potential salary or job opportunities of each course. Check out Payscale.com if you want in-depth salary info across all careers.
If you’re still unsure, consider a general undergraduate degree. Most people at least know the wider area of work or study they’d like to go into, and it’s just specialisation that leaves them confused.
Degrees like science or programming suit a wide range of jobs, and while studying you’ll get a feel for which areas to specialise in. If you complete a year of one of these general courses at your preferred uni, you can always transfer degrees once you’ve figured out what you’d like to do. Completing a year of one course may also mean you earn credit towards your next undergraduate degree.
“A generalist STEM degree such as the UTS Bachelor of Science will enable you to develop strengths in problem solving, analysis and critical thinking, all of which are pegged as important skills for the future of work for a wide variety of jobs.” says Sam.
“This type of degree gives you the opportunity to explore different subject areas and learn about a variety of industries and career paths during your first year of uni, before choosing an area of specialisation.”
According to a study from PwC Australia, “75 per cent of the fast growing occupations require STEM skills”. STEM skills are dynamic and useful across many fields, and should continue to grow given current trends.
Choose your favourite school subject and turn it into a degree
If there was a subject you loved in high school, chances are there’s an undergraduate degree or career on offer that utilises those same skills. If you’re passionate about that subject, it’s also going to make the tough assignments easier when you’ve got the motivation to pull through.
If you were great at Chemistry, try… Forensic Science
Forensic Science may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think chemistry, but the reality of this career is much more lab-based than CSI.
Check out Forensic Scientist, Shari Forbes to find out more.
If you were great at English, try… Science Communications
If you’ve got linguistic prowess like Shakespeare and the STEM skills to match, why not combine your passions and explore science communications?
Check out science communicator, Alice Klein to find out more.
If you were great at Maths, try… Data Science
It’s a well-circulated misconception that maths doesn’t hold career promise. Data science is quickly becoming the vital component behind fields like marketing and medicine.
Check out this article on data science, to see the big career potential of big data.
Did this help you get some clarity? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.