'Uni is not the be all': advice to HSC students

As many as 25,000 HSC students are this year expected to change their university preferences once they have a "more realistic idea of the course they can get into", according to the body responsible for admissions.

The University Admissions Centre (UAC) will for the first time release a round of offers just five days after ATARs are released and six days after students learn their HSC results, in a bid to end the month-long wait students used to endure before finding out their university options.

According to the most recent data, 70,178 people have applied through UAC for study in 2018, with 42,430 of those current NSW year 12 students.

More than 4800 UAC applications are from International Baccalaureate students from NSW and interstate and 20,719 are from non-year 12 students.

There has also been a spike in applications for schools recommendation schemes (SRS), which is one of several ways universities make early offers for undergraduates, using criteria other than just the ATAR.

More than 11,000 SRS applications have been received this year, a 33 per cent increase on last year, according to UAC.

But Western Sydney University education academic, Katrina Barker, said students should remember that university is not "the be all and end all" and may not be suited to everyone.

Dr Barker, who is an expert in second chance education, said that there were many pathways for students other than traditional university entry.

Tertiary preparation certificates completed at TAFE can be a good option for students who are disappointed with their HSC mark, or a course at a private college, she said.

"There are so many alternate pathways to ensure students keep moving forward and don't stagnate," Dr Barker said.

"My advice is always to persist and don't give up in the face of initial challenges."

Dr Barker said a disappointing HSC result does not always mean a student will not do well at university and many often excel once they find a course they love.

UAC abolished the "main offer round" this year, when more than 44,000 students received offers for university courses on January 18.

Instead, it established a "December round" on December 21, 2017, and a "January round" on January 12, 2018, a week after IB results are released.

Students have until midnight on Sunday, December 17, to change their preferences but UAC is urging students not to leave it until the last minute.

"You can rearrange the order of your courses, add new courses or delete courses as many times as you like," a UAC statement said.

But UAC urges students not to focus too much on last year's ATAR.

"Don't be put off by a course that had a cut-off last year that is higher than your ATAR. Remember that cut-offs include bonus points, and cut-offs change from year to year.

"Put your 'wish list' courses at the top of your list and work your way down. Your list of preferences should include courses with a range of different cut-offs."


This story 'Uni is not the be all': advice to HSC students first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.