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Author Topic: UNSW Sydney - Your First Steps  (Read 4028 times)  Share 

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UNSW Sydney - Your First Steps
« on: December 04, 2016, 03:44:47 pm »
First of all, congratulations on your entry to UNSW! We are so proud of you all.

University is going to be a new stage of your life, possibly completely different from high school. You're going to make new friends and start learning about more useful content for (hopefully) the remainder of your life. Although you're probably all enjoying the holidays, many of you are probably somewhat keen to get started and finally call yourself a university student! Here are a set of things for you in preparation of your entry into UNSW.

The basics of university
The environment changes and suddenly you don't know what's going on again. There's actually a lot of things that can be considered "basics" so here are a few to start you off.

Your degree
This is basically the qualification you receive when you graduate. You are all considered "undergraduate students" and in general are working for what's known as a "Bachelor" degree.

In some degrees, you choose a discipline/field of study that you wish to specialise in. For some (such as engineering), you need to determine this as you enrol (note: if you're going for 'flexible first year' you have to switch out later on). For other degrees, at some point in your study you will declare a major (or double major where permissible) with your faculty.

Similar to majors, however the extent of your specialisation is weaker as you put in less work to attain it. Many programs do not allow you to obtain a minor.

Schools and Faculties
A faculty is a whole department responsible for a range of field of studies (e.g. law, medicine, business). A school falls under a faculty and is responsible for a specific area within that faculty's coverage (e.g. accounting, taxation and business law)

Stands for "Weighted Average Mark" and a guide can be found here (scroll down to part 2). It literally means that and is thus not like the ATAR, which is a rank

The equivalent of a subject in high school, where you learn a bit of generic or specific stuff in a specific field. For every course name, there is an assigned course code in the form XXXXyyyy, where XXXX = the faculty's code and yyyy = the designated code number.
Remark: UNSW is a bit unconventional here it seems. Most universities associate course with the same thing as your degree, but at UNSW it's used to refer to the subjects instead.[/url]

The level of difficulty the course is, and thus whether it is intended for first, second year and etc. Usually the first number of yyyy as above (not always).

Units (of credit)
You must accumulate up to a specific number of units of credit (as specified by your degree) to receive your qualification. In general, each course is worth 3 or 6 UoC. The fact that you have some worth 3 and others worth 6 is where the "weighted" part in WAM comes into play (see guide).
(The standard workload is 24 UoC per semester, and the minimum workload for a full-time student is 18 UoC per semester.)

Classes of sizes ranging from 60 to 450 where you come in, sit down, and listen to a lecturer (usually a professor or something) talk about the content itself, and what you need to know. Much faster speed than what you're used to in high school. This is essentially where you learn the content, and lecturers usually range from 1 hour to 3 hours long

Classes of sizes ranging from 3 (if you're lucky) to 50 where you usually revise over the content you covered in the previous week. Because tutorials are always one week behind lectures, they properly serve their functionality as revision, and not you learning new content. Attendance is usually taken because it is compulsory in certain faculties (e.g. business), or allows you to sit a supplementary exam if you barely fail a course.

Lecturer-In-Charge (LIC)/Head Tutor
Do not always exist, but usually do. Usually your first protocol if you have a significant dispute related to something in the course

A condition that you must have achieved in advance before enrolling for a specified course. The condition is mandatory and usually involves a pass or credit in a lower stage course

Similar to prerequisite, however more lenient in that you may take this course in the same semester you're taking the specified course; not necessarily before.

Assumed knowledge
A foundation that the staff will expect you to have in enrolling for a degree/course. Not compulsory, however in general people lacking this knowledge have a greater tendency to struggle.

There are a few special cases, however once you finish a course (something like a thesis usually carries over multiple semesters) you're given a mark that falls under a performance band:
(85-100: High Distinction), (75-84: Distinction), (65-74: Credit), (50-64: Pass), (0-49: Fail)

General Education
A requirement that you take 12 UoC worth of courses from a different faculty to your own. This is therefore only applicable for single degrees, and combined degrees in the same faculty. (If your combined degree is across two different faculties, you automatically satisfy the criteria for general education, and do not have to worry about this.)

Either free, or within your faculty. Free essentially means these electives can be taken from any faculty (keeping in mind prerequisites), whereas some others must be in your own faculty.

A research project (usually undertaken in 4th, 5th or 6th year) which requires you to produce your own independent work in the form of a thesis. Differs from a Ph. D in that whilst your work must be your own, it doesn't have to be your newly invented idea. Done under the supervision of a professor at the university.

The student-run organisation that's responsible for ALL the societies at the university. Signing up isn't compulsory but is free and you have no reason to not sign up; you're excluded from joining some other clubs and some discounts

Groups formed (usually with some purpose) where people usually just socialise and participate in fun events.

ATAR release day/Guaranteed entry
The time between the release of HSC results and the ATAR is pretty short if you think about it; just a day or two. Once you receive your HSC results you're going to know what to expect. (Especially if you were so eager as to jumping on the ATAR calculator with them.) However ultimately, your ATAR is going to mean more than your results – it is basically your ticket to entry.

UNSW should’ve sent you an email with a temporary ‘custom profile page’ or something. They know from UAC which degrees you have currently enrolled in. In 2015, on the same day the ATARs were released they updated this page, showing if you have received guaranteed entry. Which means literally that – you’re guaranteed a position for this degree at the university no matter what and can sit back and relax till you officially receive your offer!

What are some things that you can do during this time?

Prior to the offer
Research your degree further - what courses are you doing?
During the HSC year, the main focus was really in getting a broad idea of what you're going to be learning. With this in place, it's now time to consider things a bit more carefully - skim through some course outlines to give yourself a better idea.

Guaranteed entry for your preference #1
If you got what you basically wanted to do then at this point what you want to do is simply open the UNSW handbook and know what courses you're taking. If you also have to declare a major, note that apart from engineering this is usually not needed first year. Definitely get a feel for what majors may suit you, but you don't need to worry about making haste.

Some faculties also offer sample recommended progression plans for your degree. These are just one possible way of taking your degree - it shows you what courses you should do each semester, each year. You aren't obliged to follow it; you can do whatever you want. From doing some investigation, I've found 50% of the time they are good, and other 50% of the time they are painful to follow.

Guaranteed entry for another preference, and you plan to IPT into your first
It's always nice knowing that a plan B you came up with gets the guarantee anyway. But if this is you, then you should still be considering some of the above tips.

The difference is that, due to the fact your degree will be different, there may be a small number of courses that you cannot take right now. So you might need to do a tiny bit more research into if your current degree limits you from doing some. If this is the case, work out an alternate progression plan for the first two years of your degree as well, maybe.

Guaranteed entry for another preference, and if you're offered it you plan to stick with it
There is still a chance that you get offered your first preference. Especially if your ATAR was pretty close to the cut-off. You might want to research both a bit carefully.

Changing your order of preferences
There's still a small margin between the release of ATARs and your ability to change what you want to study. This happened to me; I kept juggling between computer science and actuarial studies and eventually stuck with the latter. This is something entirely in your own control; you can always seek advice regarding each degree however remember - 1 offer every round. So if your ATAR qualifies for a preference you ranked higher, all your other preferences are ignored.

Plan a timetable
Remember, at university the staff do not prioritise your education as much as they did in high school. Most of the things are now your own responsibility, starting with this one.

You get used to it, but creating your timetable can be one of the hardest things at the start because there are so many things to juggle all at once. And there's no guarantee that you get an optimal timetable anyhow. I think it took me 2 hours for me to make mine, and 7 hours for a couple of my friends to make theirs. The following are some factors worth considering:

  • Fewer days - If you plan to live on campus, I'm going to say now that you should not even be thinking about this problem. Otherwise, getting to uni can be a trek and you might want to not stay there for too long. So reducing the amount of travel can be nice. This is also especially true if you have work commitments.
  • Lesser hours from start to finish - Trying to constantly think is hard, and sometimes you just have enough. So you might want to minimise the amount of hours of learning you do each day. Although, a portion of you might end up skipping lectures, so do keep that in mind. Skipping lectures is never advisable but it's going to happen to some of you.
  • A lunch break - Completely optional. But a 1hr gap between classes can always be nice
  • Early in the day VS Late in the day - You might want to just wake up early, get uni done and dusted and get out. Or you want the benefits of sleeping-in and decide that maybe you should have the classes in the afternoon/evening. Classes run from 9AM to 9PM on an average day. (Note, however, that this is mainly for first year. In second year, sometimes you're stuck with one given time slot, instead of having a choice.)
  • Friends - You're going to meet new people at uni, but if you want to have classes with some of the friends you already have then you might want to consider this as well and timetable together.
  • Balance - Everyone's situation will be different though. And it's up to you to figure out what's best for yourself
  • Prerequisites - Not the biggest hassle in first year, however especially if you are thinking ahead, you would want to do courses that are required for future courses. Course codes can be entered into pathways to determine if your course has prerequisites, and if it is a prerequisite for something else.

The following are resources you should consider using when timetabling:

Bojangles is highly favoured by many people in timetabling, and with good reason. Of course, you can't choose to have classes at ANY time you want; they will simply give you a massive list for you to pick. Bojangles allows you to move your classes around so that you're always in a listed slot. It also has an auto-timetabling function for you to use if you want.
The downsides are that it is occasionally glitchy (doesn't show all classes) and doesn't really show you what rooms you have to go to (imagine going from one end of the campus to another). I usually do things manually with an Excel spreadsheet.

UNSW's timetable website displays all the classes right in front of you and also what rooms there are. It also shows you if there's multiple classes running at the same time, which is beneficial if you want to timetable with some friends. The downside to it is that whether or not the classes are full do not update immediately; there's usually a significant delay with updating the amount enrolled in class X and Y.

(NEVER use the auto-timetable system that UNSW offers; it is trash.)

Note that in first year, you are not permitted to overload. Overloading is when you choose to do MORE than the standard workload (usually 30 UoC), usually to get back from a fail or to fast-track your degree. There's also a limited number of 3 UoC courses you can do, so you should be thinking of 24 UoC at most (you're technically entitled to enrol for 27 UoC).

Gain at least a small sense of direction with your major
A decent amount of students enter their degree and already they have some plans regarding their major (if required for their degree). And then many other students have absolutely no idea whatsoever. In general you don't have to make such a big decision until you're in second year, however to save yourself from being excessively puzzled you should consider what you want to specialise in now.

Think about where you might want to use your degree to get you in life. Also think about what kinds of industry you work in. Consider what would be appropriate for your own sake (e.g. whilst it isn't that bad, you probably wouldn't do finance if you hated maths). Finally research into each major; for every major you have to undertake different courses and the handbook will tell you what you need.

Time of release of offers
This is where you find out what you got. Of course, if you received guaranteed entry into your #1 preference you already knew, but this is important to everyone else.

A self-guided process, that you want to be FAST at. Not be reading this whilst you're doing it
You will log into UAC, get given something (possibly a code or password) which you can use to commence your enrolment. Or idk, something similar, it's been too long. But either way you spend very little time on UAC and put the bulk of it into the UNSW enrolment sites.

Identity Manager
This comes first. You just submit some details, receive your zID and create two passwords. The first password is for the identity manager itself; the second is known as a zPass and is used to access everything else bound to you. Note that your zPass has to be changed at least once after approximately 6 months.

The enrolment
Here you just submit all of your (required) details to the university. You may also apply for learning support during this process if you need it. As soon as you're done with providing your details you begin the enrolment. Here is where you put in all of the slots you've already decided on a few weeks back and thus get that dream timetable you want before it is too late. (Remember: In first year first sem you're lucky enough to have 5-24 hours before all the good slots are gone. They disappear in a matter of seconds/minutes from here on after.)

Setting up your email account
Your email is in the form [email protected] which you can change at Identity Manager. This is the email you should use when applying for student privalleges (e.g. access to MATLAB). In Identity Manager, you can also redirect all of your emails to your personal email account, instead of your university one. If you choose to keep them separate, you may need to log into your email account here.

However, for some reason, you need to type it in as [email protected] if you use Outlook office to log in.

The procedures to creating this email account may have changed a bit since UNSW deviated away from zmail last year.

The student-concession opal card
During your enrolment procedure, you would've been granted the ability to access myUNSW. This is where all the administration stuff appears (e.g. your timetable, fees etc.) If you go into your student profile and look towards the left, there will be an option saying "Concession Opal Card". Here, you may give UNSW permission to disclose your details with Opal travel. After 2 days or so, you will be able to apply for your cheaper opal card with them.

This is the primary forum used by UNSW for educational purposes. It is accessible here. At this point, all that you need to care about is that you can get in (may take a few days). The classes you're enrolled in will appear gradually.

Some courses such as ECON1101 deviate from using Moodle and have their own platforms. For your convenience, usually a redirect link is provided.

Note that lecture recordings (where explicitly made available - some courses do not allow you to watch lectures) are found on Moodle as well.

Between enrolment and start of uni
There's always a few things you want to get done now before it's too late. Note that anything mentioned that does not fall under O-week means you should NOT get it done then, but sooner. The simple reason for this is that queues at O-week are too long (takes hours sometimes for something to be done), or it just isn't worth it.

Student ID card
You're going to need identification as a uni student. This is done at the UNSW main library (service opens not too long after you enrol). Note that it is possible to get your photo taken there and thus all you really need to do is bring your own identification (e.g. driver's licence) and then things can be easily done.

Note that some train officers who check tickets are going to want to see your student ID card, if you're travelling with the concession opal card.

I honestly never found where to sign up with them at the time (they probably have booths everywhere, or you can go into the Arc building near the Quadrangle area). But reasons for signing up with them have already been said.

A map of the uni
Here you go. The place is mighty huge (which you would've known that from Open day) and you can easily get lost. A suggestion is to also download the "Lost on Campus" app for your phone, which could save you in the first two or so weeks of uni.

Learning content in advance
Most of the time, this simply isn't worth it. However to some people this will make their first few weeks of uni lighter on them. If you're taking MATH11x1 then knowledge of things such as complex numbers in Extension 2 maths is recommended, and in general it never hurts to start learning to code if you need it; many computer science students recommend it. Don't put too much effort in whilst your holidays aren't over, but getting this head start may or may not be beneficial for you.

A bridging course
You really should only do these if the university recommends you do it for your degree. That's all there is to say. Of course, you can learn the content by yourself as well but if a bridging course is offered (and you may need it) then the gaps are probably quite large and doing the course may be worthwhile. But if you really want to save some cash then don't bother

Orientation week could not be any more packed with fun in your first year. Heaps of events are running all at once and virtually every society has a booth set up for you. A lot of them WANT you to join (however do keep some caution if you have to pay to join). There's also many other events worth watching or participating in during this time. The list is a bit too endless to simply jot down.

Definitely join any societies that you're interested in though. There's no limit to how many societies you can join!

Freebies are some things people usually hoard over the week. There's also usually a fancy event at night to end every day of the week.

You can listen to some of the lectures they offer during this time as well. They would be beneficial but... in all honesty my whole group of friends were too busy having fun to really care for like 80% of them...

Campus tours take a while but they help you meet your first bunch of people and show you the way around. You may also consider getting a timetable tour so that you know where all of your classes are going to be.

UNSW does have an O-week planner available. And it's not bad; it tells you what's going to be on and when. But trust me, you really do not have to stick with your plan.

In a nutshell, just have as much fun as you can have and enjoy the week of awesomeness before uni starts showing its more sinister side. Haha just kidding, it's not that bad.

The first few days
After all of that, you should be able to work your way around by yourself (or with friends). You're going to meet new people as you go along. Some last things to mention:

As a rule of thumb, attend your first lecture. Your lecturer will tell you if there's a textbook you need to buy. If you have some friends in higher years available they can tell you if the textbook is useful or not.

So long as you don't do something that would agitate the lecturer, you can be however late you want to be, and leave however early you want to. At least, in general.
For tutorials, some will have a guideline as to how late you can be. But some tutors are more lenient than others and also more forgiving in this regard

People at uni are cool
Don't be shy to meet anybody. And remember to relax with others on top of the hard work.

Got any questions? Ask any time! Also feel free to mention some things that you may feel worth adding to the post
« Last Edit: December 01, 2017, 11:09:16 am by RuiAce »


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Re: UNSW Australia - Your First Steps
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2017, 07:34:20 am »
Got any questions? Ask any time!

Heyy Rui, just wanted to clarify; does the ability for us to timetable open on the day they release offers?

( Just want to get onto that timetabling asap  ;) )
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 07:36:48 am by FallonXay »
HSC (2016): English Advanced || Mathematics || Mathematics: Extension 1 || Physics || Design and Technology || Japanese Beginners

University: B Science (Computer Science) @UNSW


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Re: UNSW Australia - Your First Steps
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2017, 09:43:42 am »
Heyy Rui, just wanted to clarify; does the ability for us to timetable open on the day they release offers?

( Just want to get onto that timetabling asap  ;) )
Indeed. Right after you give them your contact details and etc. you can begin (officially) timetabling.

Good on you Fallon! Getting the painful stuff out of the way ASAP
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 09:45:36 am by RuiAce »