Choosing a uni is hard
The end of high school is right around the corner – and so are some big decisions, including where to apply for university. But with so many options out there, how do you know which one’s for you? Follow our guide to choosing a uni that speaks your language – and get ready for the first day of the rest of your (educational) life. Here's how to do it。
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1. Speak with an expert
They may have been on your case all year, but careers advisers and teachers are a great source of info about life after high school. Careers advisers can help you narrow down where your skills might take you, while specialist teachers can point you towards great degree options in your area of interest. The best bit? This is one of the few times in life that you’ll have access to free career advice, so make the most of it!
2. Do your research
When it comes to making a major life decision, immersing yourself in the research is a solid first step. Make a list of the unis you’re interested in and jump online. Dive into course guides and subject descriptions, faculty pages, career path info and campus life content to get a broad – and deep – view of where you might study. But don’t stop there – sites like the University Admissions Centre contain a wealth of info about key application dates and processes as well.
3. Go big or go home
You can go to university, or you can go to one of the best universities around – the choice is yours. Rankings sites like the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings and the QS Top 50 Under 50 can show you how young, bright Australian unis compare to the best in the world (hint: UTS is the #1 young university in Australia!). What’s more, a great university will connect you with the world beyond campus, so look for international opportunities, practical experience and a social life that’s about more than just study.
4. Talk to people you know…
You know yourself and your passions, but sometimes friends and family can offer unique insights into who you are and what you’re good at. What’s more, they may have also completed some post-HSC study, so they’ll be in a good position to share what they know.
5. ...and people you don’t
Lots of universities (UTS included) do in-school visits where they aim to get you up to speed on their courses, and most also book a spot at local careers markets and expos. Our advice? Don’t miss out! Jot down a list of questions and get yourself front and centre at one (or more!) of these student-focused events. Once you’ve got the course and application info you need, consider nabbing some time with a student ambassador – these guys are part of the uni outreach teams and can tell you everything you need to know about the student experience.
6. Put in some face time
On-campus events can really give you a feel for a university, so make sure you get to at least one at your uni of choice – at UTS, these include campus tours, UTS Open Day or Experience UTS Day. You can explore the campus and surrounding neighbourhood, get a feel for the student community and meet with staff in your chosen faculty. What’s more, many unis (ours included!) offer a range of hands-on workshops, so you can experience the facilities, teachers and learning approaches that’ll define your future studies.
7. Boost your chances of getting in
Your ATAR matters, but it’s your selection rank (your ATAR plus any adjustment points you’re eligible for) that most unis will consider at offer time. Get in the game early and find out whether you’re a contender for an admissions scheme or an admissions pathway that can get you where you want to go.
8. Choose a uni that speaks your language
The secret ingredient to a great university experience? Enrolling in an institution that reflects your values. Passionate about the environment? Excited about entrepreneurship? See social justice as key to who you are? Look for a degree with a conscience – because a uni experience can be so much more than an education.
So a few tips for choosing the best university degree for you:
The first thing is always to speak to an expert, so you have a great careers advisor that you can talk to, ask any questions that you might have; and also your teachers are a great resource.
I know at high school, when I was in Year 12 I was a little bit stressed about what I should do, so what I actually did was (I) sat down with my English teacher one lunch time and it was great just to get that unbiased perspective. She told me about her experiences, some of the other students’ experiences, so that was really unique to get that option and hear from that kind of perspective as well.
Also do your research; I know it can get a little bit tedious but it is so beneficial to really take that deep dive and go in and read everything, try and understand as much as you can about the course, because that will really prepare you and allow you to understand what you’re going to experience when you’re doing that course.
Also go big or go home. Uni is so unique, and I think sometimes when we’re in year 12 we can have blinkers on and we just see the course, but it’s really important to look at all the other extracurricular as well. So I know I really wanted to go on exchange in my degree, and I know UTS enabled me to do that so that’s one of my main reasons I actually picked UTS. And it’s really good to have a look at all the other options that the university offers to make sure you can pick the course and pick the uni that really allows you to do whatever you want to do when you’re in university.
And also, talk to the people you know. I know I bombarded my mum, my dad, my sister, (and) my friends in older years with questions about what they did and how they picked their university degree. Everyone has different reasoning and people can provide a lot of different perspectives and insight for you. And that’s really unique to know “Oh, okay, like they found taking a gap year was really helpful, will that help me?” or they found that going to the Open Day was really useful to get an understanding of the courses. So really chat to everyone you know so you can gain kind of the best understanding and also learn what they recommend for you as well.
And also, talk to people that you don’t know, so I found that the most beneficial thing in Year 12 was actually going and chatting to the student ambassadors from the different universities. Especially for UTS, I walked in there and I was a little bit confused - I was like “Oh I really like these two different Law combined degrees, but I don’t know which one I should kind of go into or which one I should choose.” And I sat down and I spoke to one of the law ambassadors and I left and I was like “Alright, I know I’m definitely doing Law and Communications.” So sometimes speaking to people that are actually at the university and are studying the degrees you’re interested in is invaluable.
We actually have a chat online at UTS where you can talk to our student ambassadors, and we have student ambassadors studying Chemical Engineering all the way through to ambassadors studying Business and Law. So you can really chat to them and get an insight into how they found their degree.
And also put in some face time, perhaps virtual face time at the moment, but we do have lots of opportunities to get in events that are run online. So you can go in there, ask all the curly questions, and really get a good understanding of the area that you eventually want to go into.
And also you should have a look at the admission schemes and admission pathways, because they can actually help boost your chances of getting into the dream course. And also choose a uni that speaks your language. I think this is so important, and something that you only really understand with the benefit of hindsight, but you really do need to pick a uni that reflects you and reflects your ideas and values. One of the core reasons I chose UTS and specifically Law at UTS was because I really enjoy the social justice side of law and looking at how the law can be a vehicle to prevent inequality, and UTS law has a really strong justice underpinning; so I saw my belief and my ideals reflected in the law faculty and I found that was one of the main reasons that I chose the degree.