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Things to consider when choosing a study program

What pops up in your mind when you think about the following things: Studying, university life, your future career? Think about your preferences and hobbies, your dreams, and your attitude towards yourself and the world. What is particularly important to you and what are things you could live without?

Down below is a list of things to consider when choosing your study program that can serve as a starting point.

It makes sense to follow your interests when choosing your study program. If you learn something you’re truly interested in and excited about, you will be able to focus longer and work hard for it while actually enjoying what you’re doing. An interest test might help you get some clarity about what your passions are.

The right motivation focuses your attention on accomplishing your goals, gives you energy and the necessary endurance to keep going. You’ll enjoy what you’re doing and in case of success, you’ll be rewarded with the feeling of having achieved something through your own hard work. Therefore, it is recommended to think about your motivation when choosing your field of study.

Organization skills, resilience, creativity, discipline and endurance are, generally speaking, character traits that will help you at university. You can figure out which disciplines might be more or less suitable for you by looking at your favorite subjects in school: If you like maths more than languages and literature, pursuing a degree in the natural sciences rather than the humanities will probably be a good choice for you.

To choose the study program that suits you best, you should think about your skills and talents. Take a look at your school grades over the years – your average grades in a subject can predict how well you might fare at university studying that subject. If your skills and talents converge with your passions and interests, your chosen field of study will likely be a good one for you!

Your success at university and in your future job is linked to your general intelligence, which includes your faculty of thought, analytical skills, mental ability to solve new tasks and recognize meaningful connections, creativity, and ability to concentrate.

Generally, positive manifestations of the so-called Big Five personality traits (extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness) are beneficial for your success and satisfaction at university. How would you characterize yourself? Which factors are important for achieving success in your chosen study program and your future career?

Values guide how people live their lives and influence their decisions. Which of the following values do you prioritize: Personal autonomy, family and relationships, personal success, creativity, social commitment, a comfortable life, success? Can they be realized with your chosen study program?

To choose the right study program, you should think about what you want to achieve with your degree. Do you want to become independent, follow your interests and motivations, have success and earn a high income, enjoy life, help others, be creative, or change the world?

When choosing a study program and university, it might be easy to base your decision on what your family members and friends are already doing or what they’re telling you to do, but you will be happier and more successful when you follow your own interests and inclinations.

To avoid disappointment, you should define your expectations and start gathering information about studying in general, your desired study program, your chosen university and its location early on. 

Predictions of the labor market are not reliable enough to base your choice of study on. Moreover, since the economy will continue to go through short-lived cycles, even the best degree will not be enough to serve as a guarantee for continued employment throughout your whole life; lifelong learning will be a part of your career.

If possible, don’t choose a university just because it’s close to home! Base your decision on the study programs it offers, the university and study program’s reputation, the number of professorships, and the faculty’s learning environment and culture.

If you have a concrete profession in mind, only certain study programs might be suitable for you. If you want to become a lawyer, you have to obtain a law degree. You cannot become a pharmacist without studying pharmacy. And you can only become a physician by pursuing a medical degree. However, many other degree programs, especially those with a combination of subjects, are not directly linked to a certain career path. Some professions, such as journalists, can be taken up with a degree in a variety of disciplines.