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Questions you need to ask when choosing an elective subject or a graduate programme

Your experience as a student
1. What are your experiences with studying? You have already learned a lot at university. Describe the things you have learned and the competences you have gained. Highlight what you have been particular fond of in your studies so far. What have you been good at? What got you really involved? You can focus on both specific study areas and specific courses but focus also on what has been good in general. Should you analyse it in detail or take a wider perspective, etc?

2. What are you passionate about? Describe the situations where you have been enthusiastic, motivated and really passionate about something. This may be situations from your studies, job or other activities. Write down examples and see if they have anything in common. You can even add a list of examples of those situations that dampened your motivation.

3. How do you work best? You have been studying for some time now, so you are more aware of how you work best. Try to write down the things that have positively influenced your ability to thrive in learning environments and study situations. Do you prefer traditional lectures or would you rather be more actively involved in a lecture? Do you learn best when you are alone with your study books or do you need to be part of a dynamic study group, exchanging ideas? Do you prefer specific cases or abstract theories?

Your future as a student
4. What are your professional interests? Which subjects are you most interested in? Think about specific subject areas first but also spend time thinking about why these areas interest you. Perhaps there is some connection between this point and points 1-3?

5. What do you want to achieve with your course? Write down what you want to achieve, learn, try, etc. during your course. Do you want to go abroad? Do you want to take an internship? Do you really want to get in-depth detail or go after broader skills? What would you like your professional profile to look like when you are a graduate? What would you like to be able to say about yourself at a job interview? In other words: what would you really like to be good at?

6. What does your dream career look like? This is a difficult exercise for most students – but try anyway. What would you like your working life to look like? What would be exciting to do? What kind of workplace is it? What is your role? Think broadly. Write down three to five areas or specific jobs you could see yourself doing. Find inspiration in online job databases or learn about the career-paths choices made by previous graduates at www.sdu.dk/karriere.

Your choice right now
7. Prioritise! You have described what you are passionate about, how you work best and what you want to achieve. Now you must prioritise. What does your course have to include to keep you motivated and interested, to provide you with a learning environment that suits your preferences and to ensure you achieve your goals? What are the “must-haves” and what are “nice-to-haves”?

8. What are your options? Study your degree combination options at www.sdu.dk/valgundervejs or try DIVA, the virtual academic adviser at www.sdu.dk/diva (only available in Danish). Make a list of courses that have immediate interest for you and which seem to match your priorities.

9. How do you get the information you need to make your choice? You must research the courses that you have listed on your positive list. Visit the courses' websites and read about them and each curriculum. Find out if there are course information meetings. If necessary, visit the course’s academic advisers and ask for the course’s reference list. Enquire if it is possible to attend an open lecture. Remember to refer to your list of priorities. What competences does the course give you? What are the types of examinations? How is the teaching implemented? What about socially? How does that work? Can you get an internship or a work placement? Does this course give you what you want?

10. What are the potential obstacles? You have a lot of options but there are limits. Some courses have subject-specific entry requirements (e.g. you must have documented mathematical skills to be able to select an elective subject in social studies). Some courses are very popular and have entrance restrictions (e.g. journalism as an elective subject). The number of students applying to join some courses can vary dramatically year on year, and there may be a risk that not enough other students apply with you. So it is important that you make a list of priorities when you chose an elective subject/graduate programme. Contact the Counselling Centre or the course’s academic adviser for more information.

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