How to pick the right degree for you

Advice from a HR expert.

Tossing up between two degrees that are like chalk and cheese? We spoke to a HR expert, so you can feel confident you're picking the right one.

As with any major life decision, there will always be uncertainty in whether you’re moving in the right direction. To help put your mind at ease and provide some advice, we spoke to UOW lecturer in the School of Business Dr Betty Frino for her tips on picking the right degree for you.

Dr Frino has completed extensive research within the field of Human Resources and understands what leads to job satisfaction. Through these four tips, she puts a real-world lens on choosing a degree, so you can hopefully enter next year feeling confident and excited!

Explore your strengths and passions 

Dr Frino says when it comes to picking a degree, you should consider your passions and strengths.

"You're still exploring and learning at this young age, and you don't always necessarily understand yourself. And to be honest, that is the beauty of university," Dr Frino says.

"Put your name down for a degree that you think will reflect your passions and strengths the best. That doesn't necessarily mean it will," she adds.

Knowing your interests and strengths might not exactly pinpoint what you want in a career, but it can guide you in the right direction.

Look at those around you

The most insightful thing you can do when deciding on a degree is to talk to someone currently studying or working in that field. They are living and breathing what might become your new reality. 

"Having a mentor always helps. Consider somebody currently working in an area you are interested in. Start asking for their advice, and you'll learn more," she says.

Dr Frino says parents are usually significant role models and influencers when picking a degree. She explains that their professions can be an affirming path for students or exemplify what they don't want in a job by seeing its impact first-hand.

"There can be pressure from your parents or family to enter a certain profession. You might come from a long line of nurses, lawyers or teachers, and often, students will follow in their parent's footsteps. That's okay if it reflects your passions too. But don't be afraid to take your own path," Dr Frino says.

Think about what you want in a career

It's not easy picturing yourself in a job before deciding on your degree. So instead, ask yourself what you want from a career, regardless of the industry or profession.

Do you want the flexibility to choose your hours or need structure to thrive? Do you work well in fast-paced environments or prefer to set the speed? Do you want to work for a particular type of company?

"Are you driven by targets and financial rewards or are you service or people oriented? Do you like to work on your own or in teams? Have you considered your salary expectations? Some students also think about the future employment prospects and how a certain degree helps them secure a job after their studies," Dr Frino says. 

These answers will quickly rule out certain professions and consequently some degrees. Dr Frino also says that research shows you're more likely to have greater job satisfaction if your values align with the organisation.

"Are you going to enter a workplace that aligns with your values, where you're challenged in your work but also supported? Are you given career pathways and regular discussions on where to next? Will your colleagues guide and mentor you? So many things result in job satisfaction, regardless of the product or service the employer provides," Dr Frino adds.

Know nothing is final

"Anyone's first goal is to get in. Students don't realise how many options they have once they're in the system. Once you start doing some of the subjects, you’ll know whether that's your thing or not," Dr Frino says.

Many of you may feel the pressure to stick with your chosen degree once you start uni, but Dr Frino encourages you to reassess your choices if you have doubts.

"There might be some financial burden in the short term, but you're more likely to be happier down the track in your career," she says.

"UOW is very good at providing students with advice. We have subject advisers within each faculty, so you can talk to people even once you start the degree. Ideally, you should have these discussions before you start. A whole team of people at UOW are here to provide that kind of advice to guide our future students into what they think is the best fit for them."

Still need some help? Attend one of our Parent & Student Info Evenings in a town near you to have your questions on degrees and pathways answered.