Choosing University Courses in 2023: Should You Base On Your Desire or Future Demands?

how to choose

“Should I choose university courses based on what I love or what employers demand?” One of many big questions all students have to this day before deciding on a university course.

After graduating from secondary school, you struggle to choose between what you feel are your interests and what you found about the relevant career. 

There are no straight answers but lucky for you, the Japanese have figured this out through an ancient concept known as IKIGAI.

What is Uni Enrol?

Uni Enrol is an online platform that matches you with courses, scholarships and bursaries. Use our Pathway Match tool to find the right course for you!

What is IKIGAI?

IKIGAI roughly translates to ‘’reason for being’’ which is a life principle to achieve happiness and purpose.

How You Can Use Ikigai to Choose Your University Courses

From a career perspective, the concept of IKIGAI proposes that the most fulfilling career is when ‘’What You Love to Do’’ is also ‘’What You Are Good At’’.  In addition, the concept also intersects with something ‘’The World Needs’’ and which ’People Will Pay You For’’ the product or service that you provide.

Therefore, it is a practical concept as it infers that what sustains your passion should also be something others see as valuable with a positive impact on society.


So, do not see your choice as a trade-off between choosing your interest and what the future (or society) needs.

Instead, you should align your interests and strengths with vocations that require these qualities. Why? The validation of success given by people who see your work as valuable will only fuel your strength and passion even more. 

Remember, what you have and love matters.

How Do I Choose University Courses with IKIGAI?

There are actions you can take when asking yourself about the 4 ingredients that make up IKIGAI. Before choosing a tertiary education pathway, ask yourself:

What Do I Love to Do?

Uni Enrol encourages student to explore their passion and interests.

We all have many interests at many points in our lives. Take your time and list all the interests you have. It can be anything, even playing video games!

Interests normally have these qualities:

  • Activities you gravitate to when you have free time
  •  Things you would do even when no one told you to do it
  •  You think and talk about them very often
  •  You spend a lot of time researching the topics relating to “What Am I Good At?”

Humans are curious beings. Our curiosity has given birth to many interests at different points in our lives. But to offer real value to society and make a living from your interests, you need to excel in your field of expertise.

Even gamers need to undergo intensive training to be world champions.

Knowing your strengths are is helpful for choosing your university courses.

The next step is to review your interest list and identify what you could be good at or enjoy so much that it comes naturally to you.

The clues to your strengths come in the form of praises and remarks from people about your natural abilities. For example, it could be how well you draw, code, play basketball, debate, cook, do your make-up, or play chess.

It can also base on simple things, like

  1. how easy it is for you to talk to people and make them feel comfortable, 
  2. having good taste in fashion, 
  3. people like to make you the leader, 
  4. you love to analyse and research topics that intrigue you or that
  5. you love to figure out how things work. 

Yet, does what the world needs to align with my interests and strengths? This mystery is where you get to be practical while thinking big! Plus, it also opens a path for you to discover different sides of yourself.

(You can have a look at this article as you embark on your self-discovery.)
Your passion and interests need to be aligned with the right opportunities to really shine.

Next, tie your interests and strengths with actual careers or things you can do that will add value. It could be a product or service that does not exist yet but could solve a pain point.

In learning what the world needs, you must also understand the context of the country and economy you are in. The reality is that, in some countries, opportunities related to your interests could be limited compared with other countries.

Nevertheless, do not let that stop you from pursuing your interests. Think of the scope of your opportunities on a global scale. As long as you develop your knowledge and skills to a high standard, you will have many opportunities outside your country waiting for you.

Find your purpose by actively looking for new experiences and opportunities to test out your interests.

Is This a Path That People Value and Will Pay For?

Being paid for something you offer as a product or service is a validation of value for what you do. Even social work can be paid for or sponsored by supporters if the society treasures the cause it brings.

To weigh yours, seek evidence from reputable sources, such as Talentcorp’s Critical Occupation List and Jobstreet’s Salary Report. If it is a new product or service that you intend to launch, perform surveys to get real and honest feedback.


If you can, try reaching out to people you trust or are experienced in the field. Have a conversation with them to help build your tertiary education.

Monetary success should not be the goal but the fuel that motivates your interests and strengths.

Finding opportunities to get paid for what you do is one of the important aspects of finding your purpose.

So What Now? I Am Still Not Sure

Warning: You will not immediately figure out your life purpose or have an epiphany from reading just one article.

However, you now have a systematic approach and framework as a guide to understand yourself better. In the meantime, keep evaluating your IKIGAI even after graduation. With the world constantly changing, the ‘You’ from 6 months ago differs from the current ‘You’.

Sometimes the profession or calling that matches you perfectly comes with experience and a little luck. IKIGAI can guide you to recognise the right opportunities that come your way. 

Use our Pathway Match tool to explore courses from over 80 different universities and find the right course for you!