How to choose a uni or TAFE course that’s right for you

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you’re still not sure, you’re definitely not alone. (In fact, plenty of people decades older than you are still figuring it out.)

The good news is, you don’t actually have to decide your entire future now. All you need to think about is the next chapter – and if uni or TAFE is on the cards, choosing a course that makes you feel inspired is a great start.

So how do you decide what course to study? Here are a few tips to help you make the best choice for you.

Make a list of your strengths and interests

There are two big questions to think about when deciding on a career path to explore – what do you like doing, and what are you good at? Start by making a list, thinking about subjects at school as well as your hobbies, interests and passions.

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, you might find it helpful to ask your friends or family. Sometimes other people can see your strengths more clearly than you can, or notice patterns in the things you’re interested in.

Imagine possible career paths

From your list of skills and interests, are there any possible career options that jump out at you?

As a starting point, here are a few ideas you could explore.

  • If you’re good with numbers, you might want to look into things like accounting, business, IT, education, science or engineering.
  • If you’re a creative thinker or doer, you could think about courses in writing, communications, media, marketing, graphic design, web design, music, film and TV, or beauty and make-up.
  • If you like working with your hands, you could explore things like engineering, science and biomedicine, trades such as building, plumbing or electrical, or hair, make-up and beauty.
  • If you’re good with computers and technology, there are lots of career opportunities in computer science, IT, engineering, cyber security and screen media.
  • If you're great with kids, you might enjoy a career in early childhood education, primary or secondary teaching, youth work or social work.
  • If you want to help people, there are lots of ways to make a difference in areas like health, law, psychology, community services, education, nursing or paramedicine.
  • If you enjoy designing or building, you could consider careers like engineering, architecture, building and construction, building surveying, or computer science and IT.
  • If you love sports and fitness, you might think about exploring courses in exercise and sports science, nutrition, health, sport management, or outdoor education and leadership.
  • If you’re interested in health, you could explore areas like paramedicine, nursing, midwifery, nutrition, osteopathy, biomedicine or speech and language sciences.
  • If you love travelling and meeting people, you could find a great career path in tourism, hospitality, event management or cookery.
VU sports student outside with a soccer ball.

Don’t just focus on your ATAR

At VU, we know your ATAR doesn't define your ability to achieve at university or in your chosen career. For many of our courses, your eligibility doesn't depend on your ATAR.

There are also lots of pathways if you don’t meet the admissions requirements for your chosen course. For example, if you want to do nursing and you miss out on the bachelor's degree, you can start with a TAFE qualification and transition across.

On the flip side, don’t let a higher ATAR push you into something you’re not really interested in either. Just because you get the results for law, for example, it doesn’t mean you have to do it. You’re much better off choosing something you genuinely want to do.

Remember, it’s not a final choice

Choosing a course is a big decision – but remember you can always change your mind.

If you find you’re not happy in your course, or you discover a new interest you want to explore, there are lots of options and pathways to move into something different.

It’s pretty common to change courses after you start, and depending on which courses you’re moving between you might even be able to get credit for units you’ve already studied, so nothing is lost.

Engineering student studying on a laptop

Go to open days

The best way to get a feel for different unis and find out more about the courses you’re interested in is to go to uni open days.

This is a great opportunity to check out the campus and facilities, explore course options and career pathways, chat to current students and teachers, and get a vibe for student life.

Two students having a good time at VU Open Day