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Choosing the right course

There are few decisions as important as deciding what course to do after finishing school. So take your time and do your homework before committing to anything.

Universities, TAFE NSW and private colleges offer courses in everything from welding and water management to women's studies and Wiccan theology. So how do you decide which is the right one for you?

Take your time

Taking a gap year after finishing school has become increasingly common and there's a lot to be said for it, especially if you're unsure about what you want to do next. It doesn't need to be a gap year – it can be a gap three months – but you should take all the time you need to work out what course interests you, rather than feeling pressured to study for the sake of it.

Don't be swayed by others

There are no shortage of people doing a course they're not passionate about, simply because they got the marks to do it and/or because their parents pushed them into it. Those people either end up dropping out or going into a career that never sparked their imagination. Listen to advice, but realise that it's your life and you have to make the decisions on what to do with it.

Work out what type of study suits you best

If you're a hands-on, practical type, you may find that doing a TAFE NSW course is more rewarding than undertaking a university course that's heavily theoretical.

Think about what the course leads to

If you're expecting to make a living on the basis of the qualification you earn, investigate what the market demand is for that qualification. If you are looking into a course in an area like art or acting, make sure it's includes ways in which you can make sure your course is linked to employment prospects after graduation.

Don't panic

Contrary to what you may have been told, it's not the end of the world if you fail to get into the course you had your heart set on. And it's not the end of the world if your course ends up being not perfect for you. You can always do a related or bridging course then transfer, or apply again down the track. You could even find a path into the industry you're interested in, that doesn't involve doing that particular course at all.

In stark contrast to previous generations, today's school-leavers face a bewildering range of educational options. By making sure you have all the necessary information at your fingertips, you can make the right decision for your future.

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