5 Steps to Choosing a Course of Study: A Guide for Beginners

5 Steps to Choosing a Course of Study

There are over 20,000 courses at over 400 universities, hence choosing a course of study can be a challenge! So that you know what to look out for, we will provide you with information on how to choose a course of study with the 5-steps plan.

Finding the perfect course of study

The rough roadmap for choosing a degree consists of five steps. These need to be carefully considered, after all, you are deciding for the next few years. It is best to start a year in advance of your studies and proceed systematically:

1. Analyse

What are you particularly good at, what do you like less? For example, you can use this test to determine your strengths. The answers to the following questions can provide further clues:

  • What do you do in your free time? Hobbies are a good first indication: For example, if you are an enthusiastic competitive athlete, a sports degree or sports management degree might be the right thing for you.
  • Which subjects did you particularly like at school? And above all: why? If you were good at maths and you find it easy to think logically, courses such as mechanical engineering or computer science might appeal to you.
  • Is there a topic that you could talk about for hours? If you are interested in historical events, for example, or visit museums with enthusiasm and read historical books, this indicates that you are suitable for studying history.
  • Where do you volunteer? Do you help at the local board, for example, or do you accompany the boy scouts on excursions as a youth leader? Are you a member of a political party or association for environmental protection? Possible courses of study can also be derived from this.
  • What do parents and friends recommend? People who know you well are pretty sure about your strengths and weaknesses. This gives you the opportunity to compare your self-image with the image of others.

In sum, the most frequent question that comes out when uncertainty about which course of study to choose arises is, do I follow my passion or think about what will make more money? To answer it, it is necessary to make simple reasoning: when you choose your course, there is a possibility that you will use it and work in the desired area for a good part of your life. Given the statement, the question follows: can you deal with the fact of taking a course or entering an area in which you have no affinity and staying in it for years? Once this question has been answered, analyse the possibilities you must be well paid in the areas you really like. There are professionals with good and bad pay in all areas, so choosing a course based only on market trends can be a big mistake. Remember, too, that the market changes and four or five years after the choice was made, at graduation time, the economic context can be quite different.

2. Choose

The next step is to choose a course of study. To do this, first, compare the results from your strengths and weaknesses analysis with the fields of study. This is roughly the area you want to get into. Which fields of study are there? Some of the popular courses of study fall under the following categories:

  • Agricultural, forest and nutritional sciences
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics, science
  • Medicine, health sciences, psychology, sports
  • Economics
  • Law, social sciences
  • Education, educational sciences
  • Linguistics, cultural studies
  • Art, music

Since there are once again special requirements for training in different career fields, prospective students must also consider whether their studies are part of what they need for their career. Each field of study is divided into further courses. For example, mathematics, and natural sciences also include statistics, physics, computer science, and other subjects. In addition, there are overlaps between the individual fields of study – biology is part of agricultural sciences as well as medicine and natural sciences.

3. Get information & advice

For yourself, you need to clarify the following points about content, requirements, and framework conditions:

  • What is the study about?
  • Are there admission restrictions?
  • Where can you study the subject?
  • Which credit records, you must provide?
  • Do you want to study at a state or private university, public university, or technical college? Is a dual degree an option?
  • Are you ready to move to another city?
  • Would you like to move abroad?
  • What are the professional prospects after graduation?

Find comprehensive information on websites and take advantage of advisory services. This includes course advice from the universities. It is also worth looking at the course catalogue for a course that interests you. Then you can see how the subject is structured, which modules are offered and what you can expect.

Your own research is particularly important, as on-site action days are often omitted during the coronavirus pandemic. Personal visits are also often not possible: Instead, the universities rely on e-mails, telephone calls, and interactive digital information offers. By the way, there are some blogs concerned about answering any general questions about choosing a course of study. Friends and acquaintances who are already studying can also provide answers to the above questions. Inquire about their experiences.

4. Decide

You have now done the lion’s share of the work. Now it is a matter of deciding with the information obtained. To do this, you should consider possible alternatives and compare study locations with one another. What speaks for location A, B, or C? Criteria can be tuition fees, admission requirements, or financial feasibility: For example, if you must move to a place of study, but are not entitled to student loans, while another place of study is easily accessible from home.

Note: Do not just decide based on a vague gut feeling. If the more distant study location otherwise offers the perfect framework, a solution can also be found for study financing. To make sure that you do not overlook any important points, you can draw up a list of pros and cons or checklists.

5. Apply

Once you have made your choice, of course, you need to apply for a place. Application and enrolment at the university depend on the field of study. Subjects with restricted admission have a different application deadline than those that are not restricted.


It is important to note that the question of “what if I choose the course and drop out later?” is a thing when making such a decision. This happens much more than you might think. The fact of choosing a profession at a young age makes the number of dropouts and course changes very high in the first years of college. As we have already said here, making a mistake is part of the process, understanding the mistake is an important experience that helped you decide what not to do. Talk to your parents, deal with the subject matter-of-factly, don’t create a monster in your head just because you were disappointed with the course or college. Understand which factors contributed to this decision and take them into account when choosing another area of ​​expertise.