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September 27, 2023, 03:56:10 pm

Author Topic: The Uni and Course for You: A Guide for Prospective Year 12 Students  (Read 4960 times)  Share 

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Hey all! I recently realised that we don't actually have a general topic which acts as a guide to help students pick a university/explain briefly how uni works for year 12s (as well as anyone else currently planning out what they want to do post-high school) - all the current stuff is aimed at people who just got their preferences, and are ready to begin uni. I know that in year 12 I personally struggled, and researched every single Go8 uni (more on those later!) before coming to a decision - the truth being that I was so scared by university and all this new terminology that nobody ever explained, that I felt like I was going to mess it up and that would be that. However, this isn't the case, and I'm going to help enlighten you all with this topic!!

Before I begin, I want to preface this with when I said I looked up every Go8 uni, I wasn't lying - this guide is designed for ALL year 12 students in Australia, no matter what state you're currently in, or what state you plan on going to. This is simply a way of getting the real general stuff out of the way, so you know what to actually look out for when you get to doing your own research later! This post in no way favours particular universities, either - however, examples are limited to what I myself know about universities around the country.

University Abbreviations Used:
UoM = University of Melbourne
Monash = Monash University
USYD = University of Sydney
UNSW = University of New South Wales
UWA = University of Western Australia
Curtin = Curtin University
UQ = University of Queensland
QUT = Queensland University of Technology
UoA = Adelaide University
ANU = Australian National University
ATAR = Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. Measure used by most states/territories as a uni entrance score.
OP = Overall Position. Measure used by Queensland (they just can't help being different...) as a uni entrance score.

I want to become X, but I can't find any Bachelor of X courses! What do I do?
A common misconception about university is that there's a degree for every possible job. This isn't true - some jobs will have them, and these are usually jobs that require some sort of accreditation to actually do. For example, to be an engineer, it is an extremely good idea to be accredited with Engineers Australia. As a result, you'll need to take a Bachelor of Engineering course to become accredited. Most universities that offer a specialist degree have it accredited with another organisation - if they don't, it might be because there is no organisation, and a generalist degree is just as good to study in the particular field.

If you want to become X, and there's no specialist degrees for it, you'll need to find a suitable generalist degree. This is usually fairly easy - in your course, you'll study a group of units that will eventually constitute a "major". This "major" is usually the best way to study something close to what you want to do. For example, if you want to be a translator, one pathway in is to take a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in the language studies of what you want to translate. You can also normally do multiple majors in a generalist degree, and can even get careers in things you didn't major in. Believe it or not, most astrophysics majors end up as accountants! Note that it's also possible for majors to be accredited - for a while, the chemistry major at Monash was accredited with the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

Importantly, just because one university has a specialist degree and no others do, doesn't mean you HAVE to study at that single university. For example, if you were to study criminology, Deakin may be your first choice because it has a Bachelor of Criminology. However, you could also study a bachelor of arts majoring in criminology at nearly every other university. The generalist degree won't be looked down on (except potentially by backwards minded snobs that still think an arts degree is useless), and could save you the hassle of an extended trip/moving out when you don't want to!

Don't get too caught up in what you'll study in a major or specialist degree, either. Particularly if you're looking towards STEM courses, you probably won't understand what's in each major to begin with! For now, just focus on finding a specialist/generalist degree and major(s) to suit your needs.

Finally, don't assume you HAVE to go to uni to become X. Look around at people who are currently in the job, and see how they got there. You might discover that uni will just be a waste of your time and money.

I don't know what I want to do, but I don't think I'll be able to get into UoM or UWA. Is there anywhere else that do generalist degrees where I don't have to specialise?
For whatever reason these two universities seem to believe that they're the only places where you can get a broad education. This could be a product of advertising, but it does have a habit of drawing students in. Believe it or not, most university's degrees are actually MORE broad/versatile than the ones offered by UoM and UWA! Let me explain:

The reason UoM and UWA boast about having the only generalist degrees is that they don't crowd their course system with specialist degrees. On top of that, they force you to take "breadth subjects" - subjects that are completely unrelated to your course. In this instance, that means you can only pick from about 6 degrees (Arts, Science, Commerce, Biomedicine, Environments, Music - these vary between the two, but these are the main 6 that I can remember), and have to take up stuff from other fields. This means that you can study multiple fields in-depth without doing a double degree, aren't forced into an early decision with your life, and have a sense of generality that no other university can match! Or at least, that's what they'd like you to believe.

The truth is, nearly every university (the only one off the top of my heard that doesn't is Curtin, and even they have something close) offers a generalist degree. You can also still take breadth subjects in these degrees (the exact same amount of breadth subjects that UoM and UWA offer, too!), the difference is that you don't have to. There are actually only a few niche examples where UoM and UWA are better, actually - the only one I can think of being if you already plan to a masters of engineering, but aren't sure if you'd rather do an engineering undergraduate course or a science undergraduate course, and don't want to spend the five years it takes to do a double degree.

Okay, so I want to be an X, but also don't want to give up studying Y! What would you recommend?
This question usually comes up when people talk about languages - wanting to do something outside of arts, but still wanting to do a language. There are usually three options, depending on your circumstances:

1. Most generalist degrees will let you take outside of your course electives, use those electives on the particular studies you want. This is useful for people that only want to study one thing, and don't want to extend their degree.

2. Doing a diploma on top of your degree. Particularly for languages, most universities allow you add a diploma that you'll do concurrently with your degree, that only adds one year to your degree. This is useful for people that already have lots of stuff they want to fill their degree with, but want to do more.

3. Do a double degree. I ONLY recommend this option if there are multiple things you want to do in the second degree. For example, wanting to study two languages, study a language and pick up philosophy, wanting to understand the science/maths behind your engineering, etc. Usually adds one year to the completion time of the longer degree.

Everything is telling me a double degree is better value for money! I don't think I want a job in [insert second degree here]/I don't know if I'm smart enough to do two degrees at once...
Don't worry - double degrees aren't as bad as they sound. However, they're also not necessarily as good as they sound, either. What happens is you don't pick two single degrees and do them both at the same time - instead, the university pre-selects two degrees you can do at the same time, and changes the structure for you. Note this isn't limiting, though, as most universities have done this for as many degrees as they can - both specialist and generalist degrees!

The two degrees in the double then have all their elective slots removed (so if you want to do, say, Engineering/Science but still study French, you'll need to study French as a diploma, as you've lost both the first and third option from above!), and then the remaining time is added together to make your full university life. You still study just as many units as everyone else does, but you'll be doing two sets instead of one. In this way, the double degree is no harder than the single, although some people find the way of thinking between the two can be starkly different and have trouble transitioning between the two. Think of it like going from maths to English, really - it won't be harder than your year 12 subject differences, that's for sure.

Advantages - two degrees in less time, two employabilities in less time.

Disadvantages - more time in uni, might end up studying something you never use (read as: if you know you won't use it and aren't interested in it, why waste your time on it?)

It's common for a lot of people to discount UoM and UWA because they don't offer double degrees - however, don't do this until you're absolutely sure you want to do a double degree! Reasoning for that is displayed below. In fact, regular madman Brenden here actually bounced through multiple double degrees before eventually deciding to stick with the single degree. Just because the option is there doesn't mean you have to take it.

Should I go to university X or university Y?
Look, don't ask me - ask someone who's actually been there. I have a general idea, but someone who's actually been there is going to know much more than I will. More importantly, go to open days! Open days are a great way to get to see the university - and each university actually spends months planning each open day, so they are big and great events. Go to as many as you can - don't let study get in the way! Open days are great ways to take a small break from year 12, and really are super fun. Not to mention seeing a particular uni in action might actually motivate you just that bit more to score really well!

If you can't go to an open day, call the university - most of them are happy to give you a tour around the place, even if they have to organise something especially for you! In fact, most universities have sessions dedicated for people who can't come to open day to still learn about what's going on there.

I don't think I'll to get into uni X because of my ATAR/OP. Can you recommend any other universities?
Yup - uni X. Let me explain:

There are mutliple ways into a university. If uni X is your dream, go for it! Instead, what you need to aim for is to either:

a) get a TAFE certificate, and use that to get in, or:
b) study a different course, and do an external/internal transfer

Option a won't work for every university - and some will only accept certain certificates, depending on course! Check with your particular university prior to applying for TAGE.

Option b has two types - external and internal. External transfers happen if you want to transfer from uni Y to uni X. These are usually more difficult and aren't recommended if you can avoid them. Internal transfers happen if you still study at uni X, just not the course that you want, and then later transfer to the course you do want to do. Both of these types require you maintain a high average depending on the course you want to move into - some even require an >80 average!

Different unis will also offer alternative methods depending on course, so get in touch with them to find out more. Some courses also can't be got in by just this method, so get in touch in those cases, too. You can also use either of this routes if you're missing a subject pre-requisite (eg, methods for commerce). Simply take the required subject at a uni level and do a transfer in!

People said I should go to UQ because they're a Go8 but not QUT. What is a Go8 and why should I care?
You kind of shouldn't care, really. However, the Go8 (or "Group of Eight") universities are simply regarded as the "best 8 universities in Australia". All in quotation marks, because it's a bunch of bollocks - it really depends on what you want to do.

Don't be bummed down by Go8 unis - do research into a variety and see what they're all good at. For example, La Trobe (in Melbourne) actually has a really good history department, and it's worth going to study history with them, even though they're not a Go8.

I want to get a major in X, but multiple courses at the same university let me major in it!! Which one do I pick?
This is a question I often get with psych - the big burner being that you can do psych in arts or science at most universities - some will only do one, some will do more, though. However, it can also prop up for music students, who can do a bachelor of music or bachelor of arts.

The crux is - you have to study other subjects, not just what you want to major in. So, pick the degree that you want to study other things in. So, if you like psych, but hate maths, chem, bio, physics, and love history and philosophy, do a bachelor of arts majoring in psych. If you love music composition, but hate performance and musicology, do the bachelor of arts majoring in music. There are certainly other majors/courses that this applies to, though, so just think about what other things you'll study in that degree to decide which one you should pick.

I'm interested in med, ho--
Stop, we have a brilliant topic for med already. You can check it out here, and please do!

Still have more questions that I didn't get to? Ask them below, and I (or someone else) will respond below! Maybe I'll even add them to the list here, if they're particularly good. ;)


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Re: The Uni and Course for You: A Guide for Prospective Year 12 Students
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2017, 03:58:16 pm »
✌️just do what makes you happy ✌️


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Re: The Uni and Course for You: A Guide for Prospective Year 12 Students
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2017, 04:00:35 pm »
Amazing - great work, Euler. :)

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Re: The Uni and Course for You: A Guide for Prospective Year 12 Students
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2017, 04:39:27 pm »
I heard I have to go to uni. Is that true?

lol of course not, uni is for boring people

VCE (2014): HHD, Bio, English, T&T, Methods

Uni (2021-24): Bachelor of Nursing @ Monash Clayton

Work: PCA in residential aged care


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Re: The Uni and Course for You: A Guide for Prospective Year 12 Students
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2017, 05:23:14 pm »
I heard I have to go to uni. Is that true?

lol of course not, uni is for boring people

Clearly not a part of my guide - notice the gap between the bold writing and the spoiler tag? Definitely a conspiracy by big pharma.


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Re: The Uni and Course for You: A Guide for Prospective Year 12 Students
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2017, 05:57:41 pm »
Would love to +1 the suggestion of going to open days - they actually changed the decision of which uni I was gonna go to. Was dead set on doing my course at one place, went to the open day, saw the layout of the uni and chatted to some students and didn't like the vibe at all. I felt like I was stuck in the 70s in a really dingy place, and it was like pulling teeth trying to get good answers out of students, and the overall set up of it was poor and I just didn't like it.
Went to another uni which was originally gonna be second preference, absolutely loved the campus, the students and staff I talked to were amazingly helpful, the buildings were nice, the residential buildings were nice, it all looked super modern, etc. Ended up deciding to put that as first preference, and I'm actually studying there now! (With absolutely no regrets)

So yeah, open days were very fortuitous for me!