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It's easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to weighing up
In recent decades, it's become common to group Australia's
universities, TAFE and private colleges together and assume they are
all competing for ‘consumers' (i.e. students) who rationally weigh up
their options then choose the course and institution that's right from
them. It might work like that in theory, but the reality is a little
more complicated. The considerations that inform where and what a
student chooses to study can be grouped into four broad areas:
1. Social factors
Research shows that the environment people are brought up in and the
people who surround them have a big impact on their educational
choices. For example, if your parents went to TAFE NSW, they're likely to
socialise with and live near people with a similar background. That
means you're likely to be brought up in an area where going to TAFE
after school is common, so that will seem like the logical path to take.
2. Limiting factors
There are obviously a range of things that can narrow the number of
available options. You may not have received the marks or studied the
necessary subjects required to undertake a course of study, or you
simply may not be able to support yourself for years on end while
studying for a certain qualification.
3. Future employability factors
Research shows that Australian students differ from their American
and British counterparts in that they're more focused on the course
they want to do than the institution at which they study. The reason
seems to be that Australian employers are more interested in what
skills potential employees have rather than whether they learnt them
at a university, TAFE or private college.
4. Institutional factors
In terms of choosing between institutions, all of the following have
been found to impact on a student's final decision: the quality of the
teaching; the curriculum and course availability; the campus and the
facilities it offers; jobs placement and careers
counselling; and the reputation of the institution.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to weighing up study
options. While you have to take final responsibility for the decision,
friends, family members and high school career counsellors can all
provide valuable advice. Today's students also have the advantage of
having a wealth of information available online about courses,
institutions and industries they're potentially interested in.