Let me take a wild guess. The end of your high school career still feels like a dream. You’re reading this article right now to get that reality check; you need to know what to do next, and soon… right?

Don’t worry, here are our top tips for choosing your university course wisely, from people who know exactly how you feel!

1. Choose something you’re truly interested in

Before applying for my course at university to teach I did have second thoughts about doing real estate, but then once I really thought about it I had never wanted to do real estate, but teaching I’d always wanted. (sic)” – Shevaun, Education

As Shevaun says, just before going to university is really the time to be honest about what you are interested in. Not what your friends are doing, what your parents want you to do or what you think is the most socially acceptable job, but what you think will genuinely make you happy and fulfilled as a career.

I was in a hall this year and I met a lot of people thinking about the outcome in terms of how much money they’ll make and getting a future job, and a lot of them pulled out of their courses because just they weren’t enjoying it at all.” – Francis, Music

That being said, if you are someone who has interests in multiple areas, most universities in New Zealand offer a conjoint degree that means you can study two areas at the same time, such as Law and Commerce. This will take a little longer to acquire than a single degree but has the unique benefits of keeping your options open, not to mention if you find out one of those degrees isn’t to your liking, you can drop it and continue with the other.

It is explained here by the University of Auckland/Canterbury/Victoria and you can find out if your desired university offers this option through a quick Google search.

2. Keep an open mind

When I first finished high school I was one of those people that (sic) wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. I ended up going to Wellington and doing the Animal Care and Husbandry course. I, as an animal lover, found it really hard and I ended up coming home from from placement absolutely distraught and I thought, “I can’t do this, not right now.” I ended up deciding to do the Travel and Tourism course. I had a day at the travel agency, absolutely hated it and decided to look into marketing and business and so here I am doing a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and loving it.” – Amy, Commerce

Sometimes, we need to explore a bit after high school to realise what we want to do. That may be through taking a gap year, doing an internship or swapping universities and courses after realising they’re not for you.

This is something you have to decide for yourself. For some people, a gap year will be a great opportunity to get real life experiences and earn a bit of money to support themselves through university while for others, it might prevent them from returning to formal education.

I also considered taking a gap year and working and just sticking around here in Nelson, but I kinda (sic) just thought I’d just lose motivation.” – Francis, Music

Ultimately, no matter what path you take, don’t ever think of keeping an open mind and trying different things as ‘failures,’ but as part of your journey to eventually get to the right place even if you’re not sure what to do next right now.

3. Don’t stress yourself out too much, and ask for help

Now you know how to choose your course based around what you’re interested in and come to terms with potentially having to shop around for a bit until you know what that is, the worst thing you can do is ruin your summer holidays by spending it all stressing about picking the ‘perfect’ course.

Ultimately, there is only so much you can find out about a course without actually trying it for yourself. When I started university, I was highly encouraged to go along to several lectures that I was not signed up for as well in the first few weeks of university, to see if I would like them better than what I chose!

Not to mention, first year subjects are all very introductory to give you time to settle into a tertiary lifestyle and to explore where your interests lie in terms of picking a major and minor. They are definitely not as life-altering as you think. There is no perfect set of subjects you need to take to be able to do a specific major. Heck, you don’t even need to have a major in mind until second year!

Even if worst comes to worst and you end up choosing a subject you hate and failing it, know that it will all be okay.

You shouldn’t “give up halfway through because you failed something. It can obviously get you down but it’s only one thing in the entire element of your degree.” – Amy Bandy, Commerce Student, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology

Instead, keep your head up and learn from your mistakes.

After all, going to university may be a huge, scary and exciting thing, but it is not an unprecedented event.

You can and absolutely should turn to your parents, classmates, guidance counsellors as well as resources online such as Careers NZ to help you make well-informed decisions. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re not self-sufficient, it actually proves you’re smart, mature and looking out for yourself, so please please please, believe you can do it!

I’d want you to make sure you choose a course that you’re really interested in.” – TC, Applied Fitness

Do something you’re passionate about; it’s not going to feel like a chore.” – Shannon, Education