Choosing which Bachelor’s Degree or National Diploma to study is an important decision. There are a number of things to consider and, as with all decision relating to your tertiary studies and career path, you should inform yourself as much as possible by doing some dedicated research.
We can’t tell you exactly what you should study but we can give you some ideas about what’s out there and some advice on the kind of questions you should be asking and where to look for more information. This blog post is dedicated to some of the things you need to think about when choosing your course of study.
Choosing your course of study
If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve probably already decided that you want to further your studies after Grade 12 and get a degree or diploma at one of South Africa’s many tertiary institutions (click here to see some of them). This is an important decision and research indicates that it’s also a wise decision – holding a university degree significantly improves your likelihood of finding a job. Whether or not you should pursue a tertiary qualification is a big question decision and should be informed by your financial means, academic ability and career plans. Once you’ve made that choice, deciding on the right degree for you requires you to ask yourself some important questions and do some thorough research.
Subject choice and academic ability
As we discussed in our first blog post (How to apply for a bursay), one of the most important factors that will determine what you can study is your subject choice at high school and your academic ability. You may already have an idea of what to would like to study and, hopefully, this informed which subjects you chose for Grade 12. If you have your heart set on an engineering qualification, then you’ll need to have above average marks for both maths and physical science. For commerce related courses, maths is also essential and other subjects such as economics or accounting will be very useful although they may not be compulsory. For medicine or nursing, life sciences and maths are required. We don’t have time to list all the requirements for each discipline so it’s crucial that you research the institutions and faculties you want to attend. Look at the entrance requirements for each course of study and compare that to your Grade 12 subjects. It’s important to note that academic ability is also a big factor. Being a doctor or an aeronautical engineer or an actuary may sound great but they are extremely demanding courses which require excellent matric results. Other disciplines such as nursing or economics are also great options which may better suit your subject choice and marks.
Which career path is for me?
This is probably a question you have asked yourself many times and no doubt the answer has changed as you’ve grown up. Different people are motivated by different things and you should think about what excites and motivates you. If you’re after a big salary, consider one of the careers we spoke about in our second blog post (Highest paying jobs). If making a difference in other people’s lives is important to you then you should consider teaching or social work. The good news is that most undergraduate degrees don’t limit you to one specific career path but rather take you in a general direction. For example, engineers are great at problem solving and sometimes end up as management consultants or in the financial services industry. Studying education can get you into the teaching field but you may also end up working in government or for an NGO/NPO. The important thing is that you choose a course of study that suits your ability and will take you in the right direction based on your career aspirations and your personal motivations.
Do something that you enjoy
This may sound like obvious advice but we can’t stress enough how important it is to enjoy what you study. You probably won’t like every module of every subject and there will be certain things you find boring or difficult but you should choose a field that genuinely interests and stimulates you. Enjoying your course is not only important for your own happiness but also for your motivation. Not everyone has the luxury to choose exactly what they want – you may have some pressure from your parents or your subject choice may not allow you to apply for certain things. But remember that a degree is at least three years of hard work and it becomes even harder if you’re studying something you don’t like. This is a personal choice and it’s up to you to think about what you enjoy and what you’re good at and match that with your ability and career aspirations. Again, it’s vital to do some thorough research about the various options and what kind of things you will be learning and the career options available for the different courses of study.
There are many things to consider when choosing your course of study. Luckily, there are also many resources out there to help you make that decision. Check out this fantastic portal: Ikamva Youth Zone and Bridge for some useful background info.
We hope this blog post has helped to guide you in the right direction and start asking the right questions. Enjoy the research and good luck with your applications!