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What to do when you change your mind about university

By Jana Angeles | 22 May 2019

It’s an all-too common path to take the university route after finishing high school, but what happens when you change your mind about it? While you may be feeling the pressures from your friends or family, moving from high school to university can be a big change and can often make people feel mixed emotions, from excitement to stress. 

You may be almost halfway through Year 12 and still figuring out if uni is right for you, or perhaps you’re already stuck into the first year and not really loving your course. Either way, the important thing to remember is that it is okay to change your mind about uni, and to really take your time to figure out what you really want when it comes to your career. 

Factors that influence focus on university

  1. Family.
  2. Peer pressure.
According to Universities Australia’s 2019 Data Snapshot, data they collected in 2017 revealed that there were 1.4 million Australian and international students studying at a university. While it is a popular choice in terms of further study, you have to remember that there are still other students deciding on other alternative study options. 

Your high school may have a strong focus on university as the main outcome once you complete Year 12. With the talk of ATAR and HSC rankings, it may seem like the inevitable choice for most Year 12 students, since all the assignments and exams all count towards their ATAR

While this may be the case, not many consider alternative study options and students may be blindsided about their own choices because of the pressure of “everyone else doing it”. Here are some considerable factors that may help you understand why there’s such a strong focus on going to uni:

1. Family.

young man talking with his father

If you’re in a family that has pursued a career in academia, you may feel intimidated by the fact that they have studied degrees beyond an undergraduate qualification. They may have pursued a Masters or PhD and you may feel like it’s an obligation for you to attend university because of that fact. 

Perhaps you may feel the cultural pressures of your own family, especially if they chose to migrate to Australia in order for you to receive a better education as opposed to what was offered in their home country. Either way, family can be a huge influence when it comes to the choice of studying at a university but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit.

2. Peer pressure. 

peer pressure concept

You probably have friends who are driven and motivated on what they want to do and you may feel jealous that they have that assurance when it comes to their career. Your friends can influence you in so many ways, especially when it comes to your own interests and motivation. 

People from your own high school year can be just as influential when it comes to university too. You may see their shared updates on social media at how excited they are about their course and you may feel like you’re missing out on all the fun. 

However, when it comes to big decisions such as attending university, it is best to decide on what you want to do rather than be influenced by you friends or high school peers.. 

Education is important and brings so many benefits in both your personal and professional life. University is just one pathway when it comes to receiving quality education - it really isn’t the end all be all. 

While the above factors can influence your decision-making about university, you may want to re-evaluate your goals when it comes to both your career and the type of education you’d like to receive. Here are some helpful tips to follow if you do decide that university just isn’t for you.

What to do when you change your mind about going to university

  1. Take a break and defer your course.
  2. Change your course if you know it isn’t the right one.
  3. Work or travel instead.
  4. Leave uni and consider alternative options.

1. Take a break and defer your course.

pause concept

Even if you have studied a portion of your Bachelor’s degree, or have officially decided on taking a gap year, you have the option to pause your studies at any time. This is known as “deferring”. 

Deferring your degree provides you a break from studying and gives you the freedom of deciding what you want to do next without the added pressure. Giving yourself a year or two to really experience work or travel can help boost your self-confidence in what you want to do in life and the specific goals you’d like to achieve. 

Sometimes taking a break from studying can be really beneficial for us, especially when you think about all those assessments and exams you did in high school.

2. Change your course if you know it isn’t the right one.

man walking deciding on which path to take

You may have chosen a degree and have given it a go because there were probably parts to it that were interesting to you. However, you may decide that you can’t do it for the long haul because you’re not truly passionate about the career options you’ll have the opportunity of doing once you graduate. 

You may have chosen an elective in writing outside of your degree and have shown a newfound interest for it and would like to pursue that instead. Maybe a university degree isn’t necessary for the industry you want to work in because attaining a diploma or certificate-level qualification is sufficient enough for the job roles you wish to pursue. 

Either way, you will know when a course isn’t the right fit, which is why changing courses can be an effective way to really help you find the career you love. 

3. Work or travel instead.

young woman looking at world map

Changing your mind about university can be beneficial for you since you can dip your toes and get started in the workforce straight away. There are plenty of full-time work opportunities in both retail and sales, and working in these industries can then help you gain transferable skills for future job roles. 

Working not only provides you with invaluable experience, but it can also help you expand your professional network that could work in your favour if you do find a career path worth pursuing. 

It will also look attractive to prospective employers that you decided to work first before studying since it shows that you can be adaptable to change and have proven to be a great asset in a team environment. 

Furthermore, working full-time or extended hours can be beneficial when it comes to your future regarding your finances.

On the other hand, changing your mind about university can give you the opportunity to explore the world. 

Travelling can take you out of your comfort zone, placing you in the position where you may be required to learn the basics of a different language when travelling to a foreign country, or you may get lost and need to use a physical map to get back to familiar ground. 

Choosing to travel when you’ve changed your mind about uni can help you reset and prepare for your future studies.

4. Leave uni and consider alternative options.

students leaving campus

Attending a physical campus may be inconvenient for you, especially when it’s a long commute from home. You may also want to take up more shifts at work because your financial needs have changed since you have moved out of home and just want to study at a time that suits you. 

Upskilled offers plenty of courses across popular fields such as marketing, information technology, management and business

With courses being self-paced and online, you can have a qualification within 12 months or less since you have the freedom to go at a pace that suits you. This can be difficult to find at an on-campus university where classes are normally put into a timetable that can rather be inflexible when it comes to work and your own personal commitments. 

Contrary to popular belief, you really don’t need a university degree to find career success

If you’re certain that you want to change your mind about university and prefer to choose an alternative study pathway, there are many benefits that come with online study, and in most cases, you can get a qualification faster as opposed to a uni degree. 

This can then help improve your chances of securing a job ahead of your competition.

Ready to make the switch to online study?

If you’re willing to take the plunge and want to see the benefits that come with online study, be sure to take a look at the variety of courses Upskilled has on offer across business and administration, marketing, information technology, human resources and more.

With the flexibility of online study, you can choose to study your course from the comfort of your own home or at your local cafe. You will also receive support from a dedicated trainer and our student support team if need be during your studies. 

While change has its risks, discovering that a uni degree may not suit you can be an opportunity for you to start your course search with Upskilled, so be sure to contact one of Upskilled's friendly Education consultants on 1300 009 924 and have a chat about your career goals and see what course best suits you.
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