Because we want you to reach new heights in 2018, we’ve partnered with TAFE NSW to highlight how a little study can go a long way. Explore Enrolment Week from 15-20 January to become whatever you want to be at TAFE NSW.

Whether you’ve just left school or wondering if your career could use a shake-up, the prospect of more study can be daunting. How do you pick the right course with confidence?

If rom-coms and Donnie Darko have taught us anything, it’s that commitment issues have to be overcome in order to live a happy life.

That was the moral of Donnie Darko, right? 

Luckily, we asked Brad Marshall for some tips. He works in Admissions at TAFE NSW, which means it’s literally his job to help people work out a study path that’s right for them. We’re in good hands.

“There’s pretty much three types of people who come in,” says Brad.

PERSON 1: THE CAREER SHARK

“First up, we’ve got a group of job seekers, either up-skillers or people changing careers and jobs mid-stream,” says Brad. “They’ll come in and want to do one of the taster courses, the number of free or low-cost courses.”

“They don’t know whether they’re going to fit back into the study matrix, and they’re not going to know whether they can fit into the matrix until they do it. They can do so much study with us without committing heaps of time or money.

Pictured: a student successfully navigating the world.

Those courses are a great way to try on studying without overcommitting: plus, a lot of these classes are free, too.

If you’re still not convinced, you just need to hash it out. TAFE NSW, for example, has Career Counsellors readily available for your use – even before enrolling.

And yes, it sounds painfully obvious when it’s spelt out, but talking to teachers, advisors and current students will help subside every last nagging thought you need to know. You can only find out what a course specifically involves and what the study load looks like if you go and… find out.

And while you might feel like you’re being super annoying, you’re not. Pre-educating yourself is a vital part of deciding to study, and educators understand that.

At TAFE NSW, that might mean heading to their Enrolment Week. It also has class demonstrations and info sessions, from razor-sharp barber classes to game development info sessions and even mini-sessions on how to keep a close eye on your pet’s health.

99% convinced? You do have until the census date on March 31 to decide whether to stay enrolled (and pay), so you could always sign up and take a couple of classes to scope it out.

Want to freshen up your resumé or give it a new slant, but not sure whether it’ll work with your life?

Brad tends to recommend something low-key for starters, pointing toward the short courses on offer, or one of the low-cost 457 sponsored courses and qualifications, which aim to fill the current gaps in Oz’s job market.

PERSON 2: THE LOGISTICALLY OBSESSED

“A lot of times, people have a course in mind and they just need to know: is there parking, is there childcare, is it part-time, is it full-time, what fee reductions am I eligible for?,” says Brad. “[For these people], it’s more if we fit in with their mode of requirements.”

If the mysteries of the day-to-days are your thing, then that’s an easy solve: TAFE NSW’s squad can sort you out and answer any questions you might have, whether that’s at their Enrolment Week, in-person, or over the phone.

PERSON 3: THE DAZED AND CONFUSED

“Then there’s a lot of people trying to decide their next step, between TAFE and uni and anything else,” says Brad.

Feeling more adrift than Katy Perry’s plastic bag? That’s okay. Let’s work out a game plan.

The aforementioned TAFE NSW councellors can definitely help you out, but even before that, there’s still hope. What are you good at? What are your skills? Writing all these things down sounds super lame – and it can feel it, too – but it’s incredibly helpful to see things laid out on the page.

If you’re really struggling, Brad likes to point people towards Job Outlook: he swears by the quiz. Consider it less ‘Choose A Colour And We’ll Tell You When You’ll Die’ and more a carefully considered aptitude and personality test. It’s not going to give you a life plan, but it might push you in the right direction – even if that direction is based off a realisation of ‘ew, I hate that answer’.

Become the quizmaster.

Brad’s also a big fan of trailing things out. If it’s the whole study thing you’re wary of, he recommends doing a small, practical course that’s always handy for your resumé, like an RSA or barista course. It’s not exactly the same as a certificate or degree, but it’ll help make it feel less daunting in the future.

But what about if you’ve got something kind of maybe in mind? Once again, it’s about weighing out the options: educate yourself on the mental and financial labour, and whether there’s any grants or fee waivers for your potential course. Again, just talking to an expert will help – and don’t worry, you’re not going to be pushed into anything you’re not keen to do.

Finally, Brad knows there’s a lot of people who simply think “I can’t do that”, whether that’s because they’re not traditionally studious or because life gets in the way. That’s why there’s careers counsellors and coordinators at TAFE NSW, to assist with issues of accessibility and the like for you so you can focus on actually studying.

You can do it!

Image: Buffy The Vampire Slayer