The Hub 3 steps to help you decide what to study in university

3 steps to help you decide what to study in university

By: Dr. Connie Covey, AU Counsellor

Selecting the right university program is important

Canada Career Month. It’s Possible! This year, think about what’s possible for you to achieve in your career at any stage of life. Let’s get you started: It’s possible to succeed. It’s possible to create plan that moves you forward. It’s possible to reflect on your own story. It’s possible to connect with a mentor. It’s possible to make a difference to those you work with. It’s possible to volunteer your way to meaningful work. It’s possible to build your own job search campaign. It’s possible to recover from job loss and come back stronger. It’s possible to identify your transferrable skills. It’s possible to gain different types of work experiences. It’s possible to take charge of your career in a changing world. It’s possible to achieve your dream through planning and dedication. It’s possible to have work-life balance. It’s possible to share your skills with others.

Having a particular kind of degree can help, but doesn’t guarantee finding a job. Earning a degree is just the first step.

Employers want to know you have the ability to learn, and your degree demonstrates that. But acquiring knowledge and skills is a necessary foundation upon which to build a career, and your success can depend on demonstrating to employers how you will apply your knowledge and skills to a particular role.

Canada Career Month is a perfect time to learn about all the factors that go into deciding on a career and choosing the right education to help you achieve your goals.

1. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Before you decide on a program of study, you will first need to narrow down your career options. Identifying a high-level career goal or career path is important because it will help clarify why you have chosen a particular area to study.

Having a clear idea of why you choose one program over another is helpful to keep you motivated. There will be days when you will not feel like studying, but if you have already identified a career goal, it will help make your task more achievable.

To help clarify a high-level career goal or career path, the Counselling Services team at Athabasca University (AU) has put together a video that will guide you through the steps of making a career decision. Exploring your interests, skills, values, and personality are all important factors in making a career decision.

2. What do you like, and what are you good at?

We each have preferred interests and skills, so it’s helpful to identify your preferences to help guide your career and education.

According to Holland’s six personality types, you may find you have characteristics in the following six categories:

  • realistic, meaning you like to work with your hands;
  • investigative, meaning you like to analyze data;
  • artistic, meaning you like to create art;
  • social, meaning you like to work with people;
  • enterprising, meaning you like to work in business; and
  • conventional, meaning you like to establish and use process.

Whether you are aware of it or not, you have already accumulated many skills, which you can use as transferable skills as your career unfolds. Learn more about transferable skills and how to leverage your experience.

“Whether you are aware of it or not, you have already accumulated many skills, which you can use as transferable skills as your career unfolds.”

– Dr. Connie Covey, AU counsellor

3. Learn more and keep getting better

Once you make a career decision, and identify your preferred skills and interests, you may want to register for a program or course to build on existing skills or develop new ones.

At AU, you can dip your toes in the water without taking the plunge by registering in an individual course without having to register for a whole program. This can help you determine if online learning is right for you.

The 90-credit Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) is the most flexible program offered by the university. It makes it possible to customize your entire program by selecting courses that are of the greatest interest to you. You can develop specific knowledge and skills to help you achieve your career goal.

Learn more about the BGS program:


Watch for more helpful career-planning advice throughout the month of November for Canada Career Month:

If you would like more information about career planning, please contact Counselling Services at

Dr. Connie Covey is an educational counsellor at Athabasca University. She is an AU alum (Bachelor of Administration) and has a master’s degree in counselling (AU, U of C, U of L) and doctor of education (U of C) in education research, adult learning. After 10 years of online learning, she enjoys helping learners achieve their learning and career goals. 

  • November 15, 2021
Guest Blog from:
Dr. Connie Covey, AU Counsellor