A lot of students are not sure what to apply for at university, and we get hundreds of questions about university applications each week. So we decided to get on that and try help you out.
Here is a 3 step approach to working out what you should study.
Step 1: know the requirements for different courses
You want to apply to a course where you know that you will meet the minimum requirements for getting in. This will maximise your chances of actually getting in and getting a degree.
To do this you will need to look through the prospectus of any university you are considering applying for, and find out the requirements for all their different courses.
Step 2: learn about the requirements for those courses at different universities
Different universities will have different entrance requirements. You should apply to multiple universities with different requirements to maximise your chance of getting into university. For more information on how to do this, read this article.
Step 3: always have a backup plan
Most universities allow you to apply for at least two different options, a first choice and a second choice. This means that for every university you apply for, you should apply for at least two different programs.
Importantly, you need to make sure that these programs have different entrance requirements. Our advice is that once you have chosen which two courses you are going to apply for, you should always make the course with lower requirements your first choice.
But how do you actually go about choosing these two courses. This will mostly depend on what your grades are looking like. You could be in two places here:
1. I’m worried my grades won’t be good, what should I do?
If you are worried about getting bad marks, your first choice should be the option at the university with the lowest admission requirements. This will usually be a general Bachelor of Arts, Social Science or Science.
Once you are accepted into university it is relatively easy to change courses, especially if you are getting good grades in the course you are already taking. It is also very common to change courses, and many people who start one degree end up graduating in something completely different.
This means that your number one goal should be to get into university, and once you are there you can change courses if you dislike what you have been accepted for.
Note: if you Matric marks end up being higher than you expected you can also change your application, and apply to a different program. This usually requires sending a letter to the admissions office stating that you would like to change the course you applied for, and can be a bit of a tedious process, but it is possible at most universities.
2. My grades are good, but I want to study something with very high requirements, what should I do?
If your grades are good, but you are applying for courses with very high entrance requirements, like Medicine or Law, you should think quite carefully about a related back up degree. So for example if you want to get into medicine your backup degree could be something else in Health Sciences or Science with lower requirements, but that might help you transition into medicine at a later stage.
Whether you make the backup degree your first or second choice will depend how confident you are that you will meet the required grades for the course with very high entrance requirements.
So what next?
Your next steps should be:
- Look through our list of requirements for different courses at different universities
- Check out our post on strategic university applications
- Start doing your applications!
Good luck! If you are reading this article we know you are on it, and will definitely be going to university soon!