It’s the time in your schooling, where you start to have to make a lot of decisions – what to study? work? live? how do I support myself, where do I live? These next steps can pose many more questions, and become a big ball of confusion – it doesn’t have to be… below are some words of advice that may help to refine your thinking and choices.
Choosing where you study
Many universities, polytechnics and other tertiary training institutes are communities, not to different from school – only bigger. It takes a while to find your way about and to feel comfortable. Its normal to feel unsure or nervous about attending, taking part and whether you have made the right choice.
All eight New Zealand universities are ranked in the top 3% in the world and offer quality tertiary education and student support – so they’re all good options. Toi Ohomai is an amazing polytechnic and there are plenty of other great tertiary study centres offering tailormade courses just up the road in Auckland. We can’t pick your course for you, we can help though using tools like the Bullseye quiz on Careers Central. Also talk, talk, talk to your teachers, your parents, your friend’s parents about their choices, highlights and (we all have them) lowlights.
The important thing is that you choose something YOU are interested in – and remember nothing is set in stone – first year is often a little taste of everything in your chosen field – you can change the direction of your study, and even the place you study after your first year, if it really isn’t what you thought it was going to be – just make sure you are talking with lecturers and uni staff to see how to better align your expectations.
So, putting aside choosing your study area, what else should you consider?
Whose got your back?
Leaving school often equals leaving home, but leaving all your support structures can make a time of change, much more complicated. Even if you are going flatting, starting at a university, etc. can be overwhelming and tiring navigating renting, study, part-time work and your new found social freedoms.
Having a place close by you can visit, relax and or recuperate in can be useful, even if its an aunty or family friend you can visit for a hot meal you don’t have to cook yourself – take some dessert though, its polite!
All tertiary institutes should and do, offer a range of support services and facilities on campus to enable you to achieve at your best, and to keep you motivated while you’re on your study journey. Even if you are considering studying by distance, you still have access to a range of support services – check these out on their websites. You’ll need a doctor too if you’re not staying local, and this is where you can find one.
Visit your prospective school
One of the most important things you can do to help make a choice is to visit the place you plan to study – does it feel right? Is it easy to get to and get around? Can you find your classes or get assistance with your courses easily?
What do the student halls and flats look like? Do they have month-by-month or 12-month leases? Universities usually post this information on their websites so check that out. If out of town, how much does it cost to get home on the bus, fly or how many tanks of gas?
Can you support yourself and balance study commitments?
Most students need part time work, do check out local job ads on Trademe and Student Job Search to see what’s available in the town you wish to study in. Talk with StudyLink about allowances and other financial support.
If you are doing a practical course like nursing, it get harder to commit to part-time work in the later years of study, so having flexible work and the ability to put money away, or work more in the holidays is important. Talk with lecturers to know what doing your course involves and how to make part-time employment work for you.
Enough of us talking here’s what others have to say – after all it pays to get a second, or third opinion
- Tearaway – youth writing for youth – have this to say – https://tearaway.co.nz/choose-university-course/
- NZQA – the ones who evaluate and monitor qualifications – https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/studying-in-new-zealand/tertiary-education/choosing-a-tertiary-qualification/
- And some wise, but lengthy words from a university, Massey – http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/learning/distance-learning/course/guide/guide_home.cfm
And remember, at any time, you can come into see the Careers team in Room 32A – we’re happy to look though options, get you in touch with Liaison Officers and or help you refine your choices – either just pop in or email Catherine – email@example.com