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You’re close to the finish line of senior secondary school. The pressure is immense. Your parents are going to invest a small fortune in your education, so the choice is on you: will you use that money well or will you let it go to vain?

Calm down; I’m not trying to stress you out more than you already are. I just want you to realize: this decision is more important than you think.

Throughout my studies at the university, I’ve met two types of students: those who made a smart decision after tons of considerations, and those that went with the flow. You know how that goes: “I’m not sure what I want to be and where I want to study, but my boyfriend is going at USyd so I’ll just hop on board and figure things out from there on.” That’s not the right way to approach this decision. These were the students who usually ended up being sorry for making the wrong choice. The ones from the first category, on the other hand, were very committed because they had goals to achieve.

Now that you’re about to make a decision that will set the track for your future, it’s important to be aware of its importance. You’re not alone. You have your close ones to support you. Plus, you have an entire community of students who are already at university, as well as future university students who are in the same position. You have this blog, too.

Let’s tackle the issue of choice. We’ll consider few important things that will determine your final decision.

Choosing the Specialty

Before you decide where you’ll study, there’s a more important question: what?

The answer to that question will lead you to the best choice.

During secondary school, you had an opportunity to explore several niches and discover your interests. What subjects were you enthusiastic about? If you’re passionate about literature, don’t make the same mistake I made; go study literature! There’s always money waiting for you to make as long as you’re good at what you do.

You still don’t know what you want to study? The time is pressuring you, but there’s something you can do. Take free online courses at Open Culture, edX, Coursera, or other sites that offer high-quality programs. Surely you have few areas of study on your mind. Explore them through university-level courses and see what awakens your curiosity to learn more.

Consider the career opportunities, too. If you’re having doubts between business management and law studies, try to imagine yourself in both of these professions. What kind of future do you want to be in?

Sit down. Close your eyes. Calm down. THINK! After this meditation (are we allowed to call it meditation?) you can write down your thoughts and emotions. I find Penzu really useful for that, but a blank MS Word document will also do the trick. Just allow the words to flow and write every thought you have in mind. When you see things in written, you achieve a higher sense of clarity and you’re able to get in control. By the end of the day, you’ll be more certain in the decision you’re about to make.

Choosing the University: Quality of the Program

By the end of the previous step, you should know what you want to become. Now that you’re aware of the program, you have only one other thing to consider: the actual university. The first thing to do is check the rank of the program you’re interested in. If you want to study in one of the best universities in the world, you’ll probably be interested in the Group of Eight, which includes The University of Western Australia, Monash University, The University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney, Australian National University, and The University of Adelaide.

US News has a nice ranking system for Aussie universities. You’ll notice that, according to the current ranking, The University of Melbourne holds the leading position. However, that’s not the case for all programs. If, for example, you want to study physics, you’ll notice that The University of Sydney takes the lead. Change the parameter under subject to check out the rank.

You don’t have to opt for the first university on the list. Yes, getting high-quality education is important, but that doesn’t mean the other schools on the ranking list don’t provide it. In addition to quality, there are few other criteria that will make the decision easier.

Other Things to Consider

  • Size

Do you prefer huge lecturing halls over small classrooms? Do you want to stay in a campus where cultures from all around the world blend into one? Maybe you want a more peaceful community and smaller classes, where the educators can focus on individuals?

  • Money

Let’s say you’re interested in the Bachelor of Arts program and you have two universities to choose from: ANU and Melbourne University. You’ll have to find out: which uni has lower tuition? What city has lower costs of living?

  • Location

Do you want to stay close to home, so you can visit often? Maybe staying close is not something you’re interested in, since you want to experience complete freedom? This is an important factor.

Australia is home to 43 universities, and there’s at least one university main campus in each state or territory. Explore the cities. Melbourne is a city with a youthful vibe, and Wollongong attracts people who love beaches and surfing. You’ll be spending few years in the city you choose, so it’s important to get the lifestyle you prefer.

Don’t Worry; You’ll Get There!

If you decided to go to universities, you’ll get there. You will make the right choice! Try considering all factors listed above. Make your own lists with pros and cons of each uni. You’ll have your decision right on time.