Applying For University


Letter From The Editor

What 17 year old knows what they want to be when they grow up? I found myself asking this question to my parents, teachers, and school friends as the end of my high school life fast approached. Did I want to continue to study? If so, what would I do?

There are literally thousands of courses available through Australian universities, and picking one can be very daunting. Not only that, but we have the long, agonising wait to see if our high school grades are good enough to get us into the course we wanted. Luckily for me, everything went well and I got into a course that I wanted. A trend I started to notice though, was that many people who also got into university were dropping out after a few months. Some said that university wasn't for them, others didn't like the courses that had chosen. There were also a large amount of "mature aged" students, who after many years, decided that university was right for them after all.

Because our choices at university will fundamentally pave the path of our future career, it is really important decision that we shouldn't take lightly. While our school environment tries hard to prepare us for what lies ahead, it really is going to be different for everyone. We here at Shopwiki know how you feel, because we have been through it all. We understand the pressure that is on you to make your choice. This guide is going to take a look at the options available for you. 

The Tours And Career Expos

A word of advice; you don't want to leave everything until the last minute when it comes to applying for university. Even if you are unsure of what you want to do, it's a good idea to suss out your options a year or two before hand. While books and the internet provide you with lots of information about courses, campuses and universities, there's nothing like seeing them first hand.

Career Expos: Career expos are a great way of seeing what jobs are out there and what requirements you need for the job. These events are perfect for asking questions, and you might find that the job you are interested in doesn't require a university degree. Career expos are held all around Australia, and are usually advertised through schools, on television, and on the radio. They are all about asking questions, and I guarantee that you will leave having a better understanding of what you want to do with your life, and how you will achieve this. Career expos attract people of all ages, so even if you have been out of high school for a few years, it's still worth having a look.

University Open Days: Most Australian Universities have open days. Similar to career expos, they are all about asking questions and seeking better knowledge. There will usually be presentations by teaching staff and students, information packages, mock lectures, and tours of the university campuses. It's a good idea to go to a few different open days so you get a feel of the learning environment that is on offer. While two universities might offer the same course, you might find that you feel more comfortable at one campus over the other. These open days are particularly important for students who will be moving from out of town. The university will essentially become your new home, so you need to be 100% sure that you pick a uni that suits you.

School Talks: I remember people from certain universities offering talks at my school. A lot of kids turned their noses up at them, but they are really a good idea. These talks basically bring all the information you need directly to you. You'll generally find that these talks are about the more popular subjects such as the arts and business, but they might be able to answer your questions about other subjects.

The Big Test

Anyone who has ever attended university has memories of the high school test they had to complete which contributes greatly to your chances of getting into university. The first thing to know is that each state and territory has their own test. These tests are completely random and require you to answer questions from various subjects. You might have to solve problems in maths, write a short essay, answer questions about history, and so on. There are new exams written each year, so there is no way that students can study. Having said that, you will usually find that your school will have you complete various practice exams, starting in year 11. These exams, along with your school results rank you against other students in your state. The better your results, the higher you rank, and thus the greater your chances are of getting into university. Check out the exam that you will complete in your state.
  • Queensland: QCS exam.
  • New South Wales: HSC exam.
  • Victoria: VCE exam.
  • South Australia and Northern Territory: STAT exam.
  • Western Australia: ATAR exam.
  • Tasmania: TQA exam.
  • Australian Capital Territory: AST exam.

What Do You Want To Do?

One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself is what you want to do. It doesn't have to be anything too specific, as many courses can lead to a variety of career paths. Having said that, you should  have a general idea of the things that interest you. Are you really good at visual art? Do you find numbers and maths exciting? These are questions only you can answer, so it is important that the decision is entirely yours. It's not uncommon for parents to push you into a course you don't like, and this is not acceptable. You have to remember that this is your life, and your decision. Let's take a look at the major fields of expertise. You will also find that not all universities cater for the classes and subjects you are interested in. This is a point we will touch on a bit later.

  • Art: Have you ever wanted to make a stop motion film like Mary And Max ? Do you make awesome short films on your camcorder ? Or are you into performing, whether it be music or drama? If so, it might be worth looking into a career based around art. Because Australia is known for its thriving art scene, these courses can be extremely tough to get into to. As well as achieving good marks at school, you may also need to provide port folios of your work, or even prepare an audition.
  • The Other Art: Humanities throws a bit of everything into one course. You might be interested in language and writing, or might want to focus on culture and history. There are endless possibilities available.
  • Business: When you think about it, almost everything in this world is a business. Whether you're interested in working in the hospitality industry or love accounting, there would be a course in business for you.
  • Science: Did you enjoy chemistry is high school? Were you one of the kids who wasn't grossed out by dissecting a frog in biology? Did using the bunsen burner  excite you? You could continue exploring these subjects with a degree in science.
  • Education: Teaching comes in all shapes and sizes. You might want to work at a daycare, or give lectures at universities around the world. Perhaps you want to focus on a high school speciality such as English or Science. If you're keen to teach, education might be the path for you.
  • Technology: Do you have to be up to date with all the latest gadgets in the technology world? Did you wait in line to get your hands on the Apple iPad 2 ? Do you enjoy mixing science with electricity? Perhaps engineering or technology is for you.
  • The Environment: Are you one of those people that care about the environment and often think of ways that we could improve it? Did you have dreams of finding dinosaur fossils as a kid? There are many jobs and courses that focus on the environment.
  • Health: Health focuses on anything from nursing and aged care to social work and psychology. You would have to be achieving an A average to be considered for most of these courses.
  • Law: Do you want to be a judge or a lawyer? Does solving crimes sound like a job you'd be interested in? If so, perhaps you should look into a career in law.

You will also be given a thick book in year 10 or 11 that lists every job imaginable. These books vary in each state and territory, with new editions being published each year. They provide you with all the information you need to know. You'll be told what universities in the country offer courses to obtain your desired job, what rank or score you will need to get into the course, how long the course goes for, how to apply for the course, and so on.

Things To Consider

Choosing a degree is only part of the university equation. There are also many other factors that you will need to take into consideration.  While these choices are ultimately up to you, it's also a good idea to talk to your family and friends about your decisions. 

Things You Should Know
  • If you study full time, you need to make university your number 1 priority. This means around 40 hours of class, study, tutorials, and assignments. Part time will give you more time to do other things, but it's going to take you twice as long to complete your course.
  • Most Australian and New Zealand citizens can apply for HECS, a government funded student loan. A small amount of your pay goes towards paying off your loan once you start earning over a certain amount of money.
  • Most capitl cities across Australia have numerous campuses. Some smaller towns across the country also have universities.
  • A lot of universities charge you a fee to park (not to mention that finding a car park can be extremely difficult).
  • Most universities have dorms for on campus living. This is ideal for students from overseas or out of town.
  • Despite certain universities having better reputations over other universities, you're still going to walk away with your degree at the end. As long as you achieve good marks, you should be fine.
  • Some courses can be taken online. You complete exams online and submit assignments through email. Lecture notes and podcasts are usually available.
 Questions To Ask Yourself

Before you start making any decisions, there are some questions you need to ask yourself. 
  • Do I want to study full time or part time?
  • Is there a student loan available, or will I have to pay the full amount of my course right away?
  • Does my town or city have a university that offers the subjects I am interested in?
  • Will it be cheaper for me to drive to university or catch public transport?
  • Where will I live if the university I attend is not in my city or town?
  • Will I be able to work/support myself while at university?
  • If I attend one university over another, am I going to get a better education?
  • Are there social activities and clubs offered and if so, can I get involved?
  • Will I be able to afford text books that aren't covered by student loans?
  • What jobs are available with my degree?


Top Ranked Universities

Some people work extremely hard to get accepted into universities that are considered the best of the best in the nation. For others, it's about finding somewhere that offers facilities and resources that work well for them. The fact that these schools rank high does not mean they will suit everyone. As you will notice, the top ten list of 2010 (according to the Australian Education Network) features schools from all corners of the nation.

  1. Australian National University: Located in the heart of the Australian Capital Territory.
  2. University Of Melbourne: Situated in Melbourne, Victoria.
  3. University Of Queensland: Also known as UQ, this university is one of three that populates Brisbane's CBD.
  4. University Of New South Wales: This university would suit students located in the south-eastern suburbs of Sydney.
  5. University Of Sydney: If you're closer to Sydney's CBD, this campus is located in the inner-city suburbs.
  6. University Of Western Australia: For those of you located on Australia's west coast, this university is nestled in the W.A capital.
  7. University of Adelaide: South Australians have the option of this school, located right in the middle of Adelaide city.
  8. Monash University: These campuses in Australia are located in Victoria, although there are also campuses overseas.
  9. Macquarie University: Sydney is home to many universities, this one being located in the north-western suburbs.
  10. Queensland University Of Technology: The main campuses for QUT are located in the Brisbane CBD and in the surrounding suburbs.

Moving Away

If you are applying to study on a campus that isn't in your home town, applying for university is going to be even more daunting for you. Not only will you have to leave your family and belongings, you're going to have to navigate your way around a new and strange place. You'll usually find that the support from the university is great. Aside from the social aspects, they will make sure you are kept safe and that you get the most out of your experience. While you are provided with a bed and room, here are some other items you might want to consider packing with you.

Laundry Basket 

Mum and Dad are not going to be there to do your washing for you. Getting a laundry basket or hamper will ensure you know where all your clothes are.

Soft Sleeping Pillow 

You're going to want to sleep well when all those exams and assignments start. Take your own pillows along to ensure maximum comfort.

Rubber Thongs 

To ensure you don't pick up any foot fungal diseases while using the communal showers, get yourself a pair of rubber thongs.

Basic First Aid Kit 

You never know when disaster is going to strike, so be prepared with your own first aid kit. If you make your own kit, include items such as  band-aids  and dettol antiseptic .

Digital Alarm Clock 

If you've got an early lecture, you don't want to be late. While you will hate that noise while you are sleeping, you will be thankful when you turn up to class on time.

Other Costs

I don't want to turn anyone off, but uni students have a reputation for being poor. There are many hidden costs that people may not be aware of when they sign up to complete a university degree. Generally, these items are not covered by a student loan. 

University Text Books

Each subject you take requires a set of readings, and unfortunately, text books can be quite expensive. Keep an eye out for second hand books, as purchasing them could save you quite a bit of money.


Like many things in life, a lot of university communication is done online. Not only that, but it is also a requirement to type assignments up. Try a toshiba notebook pc  if you're after something reliable.

Notebooks And Stationary

If you want to take down notes in each of your lectures, I highly recommend a 5 subject notebook .You're also going to need pens, highlighters, and the typical pencil case stationary.


If you've got several classes on one day, you're going to need a reliable bag to hold all your books. Messenger bags  are popular amongst uni students.

Computer Printer

You're going to be submitting a lot of assignments, so you're going to need a reliable printer. I used an Epson stylus printer  and never had any problems.

Actually Applying

When you've taken everything into consideration, you can apply for university. The tricky part is that you're applying for courses before you know your final result. You must choose six courses that you want to do, ranking them in order of how much you want to do them. Each state has their own unique application process, so be aware that applying for a university in Hobart is going to be different from applying for a university in Sydney. You can usually apply electronically through each state's website.

Once your results have been released, you will be sent one offer from one of the six universities you applied for. If your marks were good enough for your first choice, you will receive an offer from there. if not, the offer could come from further down the list. You usually have a few days after you have recieved your results to rework your list if you want to.


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