Career Choice FAQs
You want to make good choices when you enter tertiary study.
What do you need to know?
Below are links to questions frequently asked by students.
I don’t know what to study!
Uncertainty and anxiety about career decisions is very common for young people. Just remember your first career decision does not lock you into one career for the rest of your life. People make career changes throughout their lives and your first step along the path is simply one that will open up many other opportunities.
Some school leavers feel they want to continue study at tertiary level even if they are not sure what they want to do. In that case, it is useful to start by looking at your strengths and your interests and explore career possibilities from there. The website - www.careers.govt.nz is an excellent tool for exploring and researching career ideas.
Courses that develop good practical skills are another option if you're not sure of your career path.
Visiting the Career Department is a good first step for people confused about what to do. The school career counsellor can guide you through the actual process of career decision making. She will also encourage research using the internet, newspapers, books, networks and informational interviewing.
I know what I want to do. How do I find the best course?
All tertiary institutions say they’re the best, so research is vital. Talk to students and graduates about whether the course lives up to expectations. Ask to see graduate placement statistics.
You can read about the skills and knowledge required in a job through the ‘Jobs Database’ section on the CareersNZ website and compare against course information.
Another really good idea is to ask a couple of businesses or organisations that you’d like to work for whether they prefer graduates from one course over another.
Often you’ll find employers happy with all courses, but sometimes they’ll have definite preferences about specific content or industry experience.
What tertiary environment will suit me?
A lot of people don’t initially think about this, but it can make a big difference to your success at studying. Do you prefer lots of group work or to study on your own? Do you prefer small classes or large anonymous lecture theatres? Universities emphasise independent thinking and research and usually offer the highest level of tertiary qualifications.
Polytechnics or institutes of technology tend to have a more practical focus with more bridging and pre degree qualifications, but they do have some degrees. This means good staircasing options.
Private providers tend to specialise – hospitality, travel and tourism, hairdressing – and are usually small and practical and owned by an individual or group, not the Government.
There are also three state funded wānanga offering study with an emphasis on Māori tikanga (culture) and te reo Māori.
Take advantage of options such as Open Days and Information Evenings to get a feel for the courses and environment.
Shouldn’t I simply choose the best known university?
The reputation of a course is more important than the name of an institution. Would you employ a graduate because their qualification is from a well known university or because they’ve got the right skills and knowledge?
International students or immigrants, who intend to eventually work back home, often worry that some New Zealand universities aren’t as well known overseas as others. But if you intend to gain work experience in New Zealand after graduating, the calibre of your work history will usually hold more weight than your qualification.
How can I tell whether a private provider is okay?
Check the provider is registered and accredited with the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) and the course is NZQA approved. This information should be written on the provider’s published material. Check everything because a provider can be registered and approved yet have some courses that aren’t approved.
NB: University courses don’t come under NZQA.
There are also some international qualifications that are internationally approved so don’t need NZQA approval, such as City & Guilds.
How do I persuade my parents to let me study what I want?
Some parents have very high expectations of their children. Yet pressuring children to enter study that doesn’t fit with their aptitude and interests can result in years of dissatisfaction and failure.
If you are struggling with a subject at school, you’re likely to struggle to make the entry requirements anyway. A compromise is often the answer; one that satisfies parents and student. A neutral person, such as a career counsellor, can help in these discussions.
To make a case for a different career, you need to become informed and research the career you want to follow and collect evidence to show your parents that it will provide good outcomes. Universities New Zealand puts out annual statistics on the destinations and salaries of graduates that would be useful. The Department of Labour’s website also has up to date information about skill shortages in New Zealand which may help your decision making.
What if I don’t meet the entry requirements for the course I wish to do?
Usually there are options to staircase or bridge into higher or more specific levels of study. This can be done through summer school papers, evening classes, distance learning or full time foundation or certificate courses. It is important, though, to check the bridging course is accepted as an appropriate alternative entry for the course you want to enter.
People sometimes enter diploma level study and, after proving their academic ability in the first two semesters, move into degree study taking some credits from their diploma study with them.
I need a break. Will I be disadvantaged if I don’t go straight to tertiary study from school?
A lot of young people take a gap year – or more - before further study. Some are simply tired of studying; others don’t know what to do. Many young people don’t want to pay for a course until they find something that really interests them, so they prefer to earn and save in the mean time.
Try testing out some of your ideas with entry level work in industries you’re interested in and actively developing skills you identify as important for the future, such as a full driver’s licence and customer service skills. You could also do some part time tertiary study, such as a paper at tertiary level in an area of interest, or a short course in computer skills.
How do I choose a career?
CareersNZ has heaps of ideas and information about choosing subjects, making career choices, finding courses and trade options from a national perspective. There is also excellent information on the labour market and the benefits of work experience. Check it out…
Also check out the Career Service Where To section to get an idea of the range of careers connected to your favourite subjects.
And don't forget you can always make an appointment with the career counsellor at Mt Roskill Grammar Career Department in H4.
Useful Subjects and Related Careers
The links below indicate the subjects recommended for the degrees offered by a number of New Zealand universities. We are not saying these subjects are compulsory because the entry requirements can vary from the recommended subjects. For specific information on entry requirements, please check the provider’s prospectus or website or ask at the Career Department.
University of Auckland www.auckland.ac.nz/en/for/future-undergraduates/fu-study-options/fu-guide-to-choosing-secondary-school-subjects-1.html
AUT University (Link to come) For current recommended subjects check on the specific requirements of the particular course you are interested in studying under the 'Study Areas' tab on the home page.
University of Otago www.otago.ac.nz/prospectivestudents/otago556016.pdf For more information check on the specific requirements of the particular course you are interested in studying under the 'Learning and teaching' tab on the home page.
Massey University www.massey.ac.nz/massey/fms/About%20Massey/Student-Recruitment/2017-Massey-Recommended-and-Required-Subjects.pdf
Victoria University www.victoria.ac.nz/study/course-planning/school-subjects/planning-ahead.pdf
Waikato University squiz-matrix.its.waikato.ac.nz/__matrix-data/assets/pdf_file/0025/36448/Choosing-your-Subjects.pdf
University of Canterbury www.canterbury.ac.nz/media/documents/brochure/Best-preparation-for-university-study.pdf This is the most up to date information on the website. For current recommended subjects check on the specific requirements of the particular course you are interested in studying under the 'Courses' section on the home page.
Useful General Career Sites
Neutral government-funded website containing excellent information on New Zealand jobs, industries and training.
Student loans and allowances information, including applications and calculators to help you work out your entitlements.
Information on occupations, industry, employment, jobs, regions, business, and the world of work.
For people interested in learning about a wide range of health careers in NZ
Overseas Universities and Tertiary Institutions
The school's Career Counsellor is happy to help with any enquiries.