From Year 10 to uni: A year-by-year guide

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Year 10 is the perfect time to start considering your journey from high school to uni. You don’t have to make every decision right now but considering what you want to study at university using this guide as a checklist will ensure you do small steps each year that will put you in the best position when applying for and starting uni.

Preparing for your final years of high school 

Attend a Year 10 Subject Selection and Information Evening or Experience Day 
An information evening is a great place to start to help you navigate the HSC subject selection process and find out more about UNSW. You’ll get to ask questions and hear from current students about their experience transitioning from high school to uni. 

Experience Days still provide lots of information but additionally let you get a feel for campus and what it will be like studying here. You’ll get a taste of your area of interest through talks, workshops and activities.  

Register for events 


Questions to ask yourself when considering your senior years: 

1. Which subject at school is the most exciting?

Think about which courses you find exciting, whether that’s one where you enjoy the style of learning in class or the interesting topics you get to discuss. 

You’re more likely to do better in these courses because you’re interested and passionate about the subject and it will help you stay motivated and engaged when the workload ramps up and the textbook readings get long. 

2. What degrees am I interested in studying? 

Although UNSW degrees don’t have prerequisite subjects for entry, many will have assumed knowledge. Studying these subjects will help you transition into the first year of your chosen degree but aren’t compulsory. This might help you when you’re considering your subject selection for Year 11 and 12.

You can search degrees or explore areas of interest for ideas. 

What if I change my mind before Year 12? Don’t worry, we offer bridging courses in Chemistry, Maths and Physics to help you strengthen your knowledge before first year.  

3. What do I want to do after uni? 

Looking at careers and jobs you’re interested in can help you narrow down what you want to study at uni. You can then start to map out the path to your dream job.  

Don’t worry too much if you haven’t got an exact job in mind. Finding a field of interest or industry will help you start shortlisting relevant degrees. You can explore where our graduates now work to be inspired by how their UNSW degree has helped them find a career.

Setting the foundations 

Set up healthy study habits 

Set yourself up for success but establishing a study routine that’s realistic, sustainable and balanced. Being able to sustain your effort over Year 11 and 12 (and not trying to cram at the last minute!) is key to doing well in the HSC.  

When setting up your study schedule consider what commitments you have outside of school such as work, sport and family. Making time for these will help maintain your wellbeing and sense of balance through your last years of school.  


Look at the bigger picture 

There are things outside of your studies that you can be doing in Year 11 and 12 to bolster your admission to uni. Although studying is essential to ensure you do well in the HSC, it’s also important to consider that many universities look at you holistically.  

Portfolio Entry
Year 11 is the perfect time to start documenting your creative works if you’re thinking about studying Art & Design or Built Environment degrees. Not only will it give you time to practice your documentation skills before submitting a portfolio, but you can also use works from Year 11 and 12 to showcase your talents when applying.

Be prepared by learning more about the Portfolio Entry process.

Our scholarships aren’t just based on your grades – UNSW considers your leaderships skills, extracurricular interests and your passion to study with us. In Year 11 and 12 it’s important to keep up your interests outside of schools both for your wellbeing but also if you’re applying for a scholarship.

Learn about our scholarships to find the right one for your interests and circumstance.

Adjustment factors
If you’re excelling at achievements outside the classroom schemes such as the Elite Athletes, Performers and Leaders (EAPL) Program might recognise these. The program considers sporting, academic, music and/or leadership commitments.

Find out which adjustment factors might apply to you and any applications involved.


Interview us! 

Attending a career expo is a great chance to find out what each university is about and what they can offer you. Asking questions about what’s important to you can help you to find out which uni is the right fit for you.  

If you’re interested in practical experience, ask about Work-Integrated Learning and Internships. If sports and extra-curriculars are your thing, ask about student clubs and societies, or if you’re busting to get overseas, student exchange might be on the cards! Whatever you’re passionate about, find out what opportunities are available.

Choosing your uni and degree 

Here’s the exciting part! When choosing what you want to study and which university you wish to attend, there are endless possibilities. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering a university: 

  • What do I want my uni life to look like?  

  • Is there flexibility to prioritise my interests?  

  • What opportunities are there on campus, in industry or overseas while studying? 

  • Can I combine my interests in a double degree?  

  • Can I transfer degrees if I change my mind? 


Brush up on your knowledge of UAC preferences 

Taking the time to understand the University Admissions Centre (UAC) application process can help ease any concerns about the steps you need to take to get into university. Read our guide to learn how the UAC process works and get the most out of your UAC preferences.


Attend Open Day 

Open Day is an experience not to be missed. Held in September each year, Open Day allows you to fully immerse yourself in the UNSW experience. You’ll get to learn about the degrees you’re interested in, check out the campus and facilities, ask lots of questions and grab a few freebies along the way. Keep an eye out for when registrations open.  

Stay up to date 

What will my first year of uni look like? 

A new schedule 

Gone are the days of going to class when the school bell rings. Instead, you'll be in charge of knowing when your next class is and where you need to be. This independence also comes with the freedom to have different start and finish times depending on your courses and degree, giving you more control over your schedule.  

Depending on your degree, there will be the flexibility to choose how many courses you study per term. A full-time study load is eight courses split across three terms, so you’ll get one term with only two courses. Some students choose to put the course they’ll find most challenging in the term with two courses to give them more time to focus on the subject.  

Keeping on top of study 

This motivation is when picking a degree that sparks your interest comes into practice. Being able to motivate yourself to study and self-direct your learning is really important at uni. You won’t always have a teacher checking up on you to ensure you’ve done the homework.  

Get involved outside the classroom 

You’ll also have the opportunity to take advantage of opportunities that aren’t compulsory but will add to the learning experience. It could be going to a first-year camp, participating in a Mooting to practice your debating skills or entering artwork into an exhibition to network with industry. These opportunities will build your employability and connect you with industry professionals before you even graduate.

Discover your path to uni

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