What to Study

By ACS Distance Education on May 31, 2018 in Education & Jobs Success | comments

Choosing what to study is difficult for many people; but it doesn't need to be.

When you understand the benefits of study, you will understand the differences between your choices are not as great as you might have thought. Most of the real benefits that come from study are to be gained from any study that is engaging.

The best choice is almost always the course you will engage with and be passionate about; provided it is supported by good resources and staff at the school or college. 

If You know How a Course will Benefit You; You probably Don't Need to Do that Course

Most people have a need to feel in control of their lives. They need to feel they know why they are doing something and what the likely outcome is. If learning is to be of value though, your awareness of the subject will be very different after completing study than what it was before you started. You cannot really understand the path you are entering, and where it might lead you, until you complete the course. To fully understand the journey through a course, you would need to have achieved many of the benefits of that course before you even started it.

Colleges and universities frequently compete for students by presenting their courses as leading to very specific and attractive outcomes (eg. Do this course and get that job). In reality, research conducted into what graduates do after a course, shows much of this advertising to be false. People who do degrees and diplomas in one thing, frequently end up working in something different.

Why Do Graduates Work in Industries Different to What they Study?

Studying anything has a number of different benefits. Sure, you learn about the discipline you study; but there are lots of other, often more important benefits. Studying any type of course will:

  • broaden your perspective on the world around you because you will be exposed to thoughts and ideas you have not encountered before
  • improve your life skills such as your ability to communicate, organise, manage your time, undertake research, to think more creatively, to use technology and resources you may not have encountered otherwise
  • demonstrate to employers or potential clients that you have a certain level of commitment to jobs you take on
  • provide opportunities to develop ideas, network with others, and plan for the future
  • develop your maturity and motivation and formulate a perspective on your future

Studying Anything is Better than Studying Nothing

Some people procrastinate for years, avoiding making a decision about what to study because they are not sure about what industry they want to work in. Others study something they are uncertain about, and gain the benefits listed above; then work in something completely different. Armed with better live skills, greater confidence and a positive attitude, most people can progress their work prospects in just about any industry.

It is Easier to Succeed in Something You are Passionate About

Parents and teachers all too often push young people into studying things that they are not passionate about; simply because that industry is more prestigious or offers greater income or better job security. Young people may comply because they don't really know what they want to do anyway. This is not a good basis upon which to choose a course though.

Anyone, young or old, will learn more and benefit more from a course if they are studying something they are passionate about. In a minority of instances, it may lead to working in the field they love; but in 100% of cases it will lead to developing far stronger live skills, a better work ethic and a more productive long term benefit.


1st   Decide what discipline you are most passionate about? -not what you are good at, or what someone else wants you to study - rather choose a subject that interests you, that you would choose to find out more about in your spare time.

2nd  Decide what amount of time you can comfortably commit to study without feeling stressed or losing motivation. Consider how many hours a week, and how many weeks, months or years. Do not choose a course because it is called a degree or diploma; or can be finished faster than something else. Choose it because it's something you will enjoy learning.

3rd   Determine the options - what colleges can help you learn about this topic, who are the teachers, what resources are available to support you, do you have unrestricted access to teachers/tutors or is your access limited, how strongly is the course focused on exams compared with learning (some courses are more about assessment and less about actual learning). Do not choose to study because it has some sort of formal recognition, or will be funded by government or it is prestigious. There isn't a lot of point doing something you don't have a passion to do, that will eat up a year or two of your time just because it is free, or someone else endorses it. That is a sure fire recipe for wasting everyone's time and money.

4th  Understand Yourself and Your Needs - Different people are hard wired to learn in different ways. Our understanding of educational psychology tells us that  some people learn by collecting information; and others learn by processing information. Some will learn fast and others slow. Some need to see more than hear or read, but others can learn more from hearing or reading. There are lots of other differences. If you are going to choose the best college and course for you; you must understand yourself and how you learn.

5th   Match the course with what you know about yourself and the options on offer; then start studying.