International Students

Help! I think I'm in the wrong course - what next?

by on May 17, 2016 | Top Stories

Help! I think I'm in the wrong course - what next?

When the novelty of being a fresher has worn off and you’ve ruled out homesickness as the cause of your nerves or anxiety, some of you will be hit by the realisation that you might have just chosen the wrong course.

Horrors, no! How did that happen?

If you chose a course because your family expects you to pursue a particular career, or because all your friends chose that course, or because it’s supposed to be the easiest course to get through, chances are that you didn’t pick a course that’s a good match for your personality and interests.

But don’t fret just yet. It’s not the end of the world if you think you’ve chosen the wrong course.

What to do if you think you’re in the wrong course

If you think your course isn't right for you, the first thing you should do is talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence!

Discuss your concerns with your lecturers, tutors or course coordinator. It may be that you are in the right course, but need to make some changes.

Talk to a student counsellor or career counsellor who may be able to help you get to the bottom of the problem; or help you work out your best options before you make changes to your course.

If you have decided to make a change, you need to be aware of the requirements for changing subjects or courses.

Depending on how far you are in the semester, you will also need to find out if you can change courses immediately or begin only in the following semester.

You don’t want to make the same mistake twice – you’ll have to consider your options carefully when choosing a course to change to.

8 tell-tale signs that you could be in the wrong course

  1. You are unable to understand the concepts being taught in class despite paying attention and reviewing your notes.
  2. Your performance is lagging behind other students.
  3. You fail (or barely pass) most or all of your subjects.
  4. No matter how hard you try, you are not able to concentrate on, nor enjoy your studies.
  5. You feel panicked, anxious, stressed, and grumpy almost all the time.
  6. You are unhappy with yourself and feel your level of confidence slowly slipping away.
  7. You realise that even if you make it through this course, none of the possible careers related to this qualification interests you.
  8. Even when you do well on an assignment, you don’t feel motivated or pleased with your achievement.

Points to consider before changing your course

Help! I think I'm in the wrong course - what next?

You will experience a lot of uncertainty at the start of your university experience which can be somewhat overwhelming. If you plan to change courses, be sure it's the course, not your circumstances, that’s driving your decision.

Ask yourself what you dislike about the course. If it is just one subject that you can’t handle, then it’s just a short term problem. Rough it out or find out if you can change that particular subject.

Once you switch your course, it is likely that you’ll have to start from the scratch. This means taking a longer time to complete your studies, and spending more money.

Which brings us to the next point – you’ll need to find out if your budget meets the new course you’re interested in.

If you’re changing courses within the same college or university, there will probably be less hassle. You might even save on some fees too.

If you’re planning on a different course at a different college or university, be sure to check out the facilities, accommodation, admission requirements, tuition fees, etc.

If you’re an international student in Malaysia and you plan to switch to another institution, you need to obtain the following:

  • a ‘release letter’ from your current institution,
  • an ‘offer letter’ from the institution you want to switch to, and
  • approval from the Immigration Department of Malaysia and the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia
  • You need to have your existing student pass (from the present institution) cancelled. The new institution will then obtain a fresh student pass on your behalf from the Immigration Department. You need to pay for a new visa processing fee. The student pass is not transferable.

How do I choose the right course?

  • Talk to a student counsellor or career counsellor who can help guide you to the right path.
  • Seek the help of a professional career counsellor who can administer a personality test and help you understand what is the right course and career that fits your skills, personality and interests.
  • Attend a few lectures on the course you’re considering to find out what it’s like.
  • Talk to students who are already studying the course that interests you.
  • Talk to the lecturers to find out more about what to really expect from the course.


Sources used in this article include:

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