The 5 Questions You Need to Ask Before Starting University

"Today is your opportunity to build the tomorrow you want.” Ken Poirot

So, you've finished high school and decided to start University - that's exciting!

You have lots of new adventures ahead and this year will be full of learning - about life, yourself and the world of work!

But can I ask you to stop for a just a moment.

Remember when you signed up for your University course - perhaps right after you finished high school - and selected your subjects?

Are you still as excited about that course now?

Do you even remember what subjects you selected?

If you hesitate at those questions, it's a good time to revisit your plans. It doesn't mean you shouldn't go to University, it just suggests that maybe some more thought about the BEST path for you would give you more certainty.

Many high schools encourage their Year 13 students to go to University, seeing it as a 'personal growth' year and being risk-free, since the fees-free scheme is in place. But that doesn't mean that there isn't pain down the road if you select the wrong University course. It could impact your confidence, your self-esteem, incur costs with accommodation or living expenses, and generally throw you into a state of turmoil.

No-one wants that for you.

As a career expert and coach for 16-25 year olds across New Zealand, I've seen many high school graduates put minimal thought into their University options, and then have regrets later. That's OK, the key thing is recognising that you might need to give it some more thought.

I suggest answering these 5 key questions as a first step:

1. Does the idea of University (or Polytech or tertiary study) life (study, location, living arrangements, etc) excite you?

2. Are you confident about your course of study and sure that this is your best option (for you, not your parents or your high school or your wallet)?

3. Do you feel at ease about your potential level of student debt (include living costs too)?

4. Are you clear where your qualification will take you, in terms of a career path?

5. Do you feel you have the life skills and study habits to support your success at University?

If you answered "Yes" to all these, that's fantastic. You've clearly thought through all the implications and you're off and running - good luck with your studies! (oh, and contact me before you graduate - as I help graduates secure a great graduate role!)

If you answered "No" to 2 or more of these questions, then some further exploration and discussion is required.

That's where I help young adults.

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.”

Melody Beattie

I work one on one with students to explore their best-fit study and career options, using a powerful online career questionnaire and an enlightening coaching session. Together, we can find answers to the questions above and give you certainty that there isn't a better option out there, and that a tertiary course IS necessary for the career that most interests you. I help you plan your course and consider the costs you are likely to incur - if you have challenges you are facing, we can solve those issues too.

Think of me as our own personal career coach. I certainly wish I had one of those, when I selected a degree that didn't inspire me and which I never used!

Want to find out more about working with me?

I have a free 20 minute Discovery Call, which you can book online straight into my diary, on a day and time that suits you. We can chat about any concerns you have, and you can decide if I'm the right person to help you. And I don't do sales talk; I am driven by the need to help.

I'm Tracey Beard, the CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of Career Matters - I'm changing the way that NZ students and young adults select their study and career paths.

I love to chat about careers!

You can find me on Facebook @careermattersnz and at

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