Choosing a course

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You might know what you want to study at university or TAFE. You might not. But how do you find the right course for you? And where should you study it?

Here are our tips on:

> Choosing what to study
Choosing where to study it

Choosing what to study

There are heaps of online guides and directories you can use to find out what sort of courses are out there.

These guides can help you find out more about:

  • what a course involves
  • related subjects you should be doing at school
  • whether there are additional requirements (for example, entrance tests, interviews or folio presentations). 

 This isn't an exhaustive list, but it's a good place to get started.

  • Our Career profiles - Interviews with people in heaps of jobs, including information about the study and training they did to get there. 
  • VTAC CourseSearch (new window) - Search by course name, institution, area of interest, qualification level or application method.
  • Victorian Skills Gateway (new window) - Search for TAFE and training courses in Victoria by occupation, interest or field of study.
  • QILT (new window) - Compare student satisfaction ratings and employment outcomes for university courses across Australia.
  • Course Camel (new window) - Search by course name, area of interest or job name.
  • MyFuture (new window - Browse courses and career profiles, and take a career planning quiz (note: free registration is required to use this site). 

Another good way to find out more about what kind of courses are out there is to head along to an Open Day so that you can talk to students and lecturers in person.

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Choosing where to study

Once you have an idea of what you’d like to study you’ll need to find out where you can study it. For example, you could study engineering at a university in Melbourne, Bendigo, Geelong or somewhere else.

Things you might want to think about when choosing the uni, TAFE or college you'll study at include:

  1. entrance requirements
  2. course reputation
  3. course location
  4. course fees.

1. Entrance requirements

Each course has its own specific entrance requirements. For example, you might have to have an ATAR of a certain value or higher, or you might have to have done a particular subject at high school.

Entrance requirements for a course can sometimes change from institution to institution. Your ability to meet these requirements can affect where you eventually end up studying.

Remember that meeting these requirements doesn't mean you automatically get into a course. You're competing with other people who want a place in that course too.

For more about entrance requirements, visit our How to apply for a course page and visit the VTAC Entrance requirements page (new window).

2. Course reputation and success rate

It helps to know how well graduates of a course are respected. It also helps to know how well a course leads into work after graduation.

For example, half of the graduates of an independent training college in Melbourne may have jobs the year after they graduate, while a similar course at a regional TAFE may have almost all of its graduates in work the year after they graduate.

All other things being equal, in this case it would make more sense to do the course offered by the regional TAFE.

To find out about the reputation and success rate of a course, you can:

  • research the courses online at websites like QILT (new window)
  • talk to students and staff at an Open Day
  • ask your careers teacher what they know about the different courses
  • contact members of the relevant industry association to ask what they think about the course.

3. Course location

It’s a good idea to think about how far you’ll have to travel to get to class. The more time you spend travelling the less time you have to study, work and do everything else.

Some courses may only be offered in Melbourne. Others may only be offered in regional towns. Unless you’re studying online by distance education, there will be a set number of hours each week when you’re expected to physically attend classes at your university or college.

Here are some things to think about when choosing a course location:

  • How much time will you need to spend in class?
  • How much will it cost to travel to your classes?
  • Will you need to live away from home to study this course?

If you think you might need to move out of home to be closer to your university or college, visit our Housing & accommodation section for some ideas about your housing options.

If you’re thinking about travelling even further and studying overseas, visit our Studying overseas page.

4. Course fees

Knowing how much a course will cost and how much you can afford to spend on your education are important factors in choosing where to study. Fees for a course in Melbourne might be more than the fees for the same course in Bendigo or Wodonga.

There are plenty of good reasons to study a course with lower fees. To find out how much the courses you are considering will cost, you can contact course providers directly.

Study Assist's Be a savvy student page (new window) has some good tips on shopping around for tertiary courses to make sure you don't end up paying too much.

For more information about help paying for study, visit our Paying for your course page.

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