Deciding to study at university can mean big changes to your life and a lot of hard work. It can also be an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience.
University qualifications – the basics
Some jobs require a university qualification, like nursing or teaching. In other industries, like media or fashion, a uni degree isn't specifically needed, but it can give you an advantage over other job applicants.
There are two kinds of qualification that you can study at university.
- Undergraduate courses, also called 'degrees', are the first level of higher education.
- Post-graduate courses are courses of further study that you do at university on a specific subject after you've got your degree. Honours degrees, Masters degrees and PhDs are all examples of post-graduate study.
Note that if you decide to do post-graduate study, you don't necessarily have to do it at the same university where you did your undergraduate study.
Degrees can take anywhere between three and six years to complete, depending on what their focus is. Post-graduate courses usually take one or two years to complete – again, this depends on the nature of the course.
What to study – choosing a course
Some uni courses are general, like arts, science or commerce. When you do a general course you can study a range of topics, or even do a double degree and combine your interests. At the end of a general course your qualification will be recognised in lots of different areas, but it won’t prepare you for a specific type of job.
Some courses focus on a particular occupation, like journalism, medicine, fashion or engineering. These courses give you the skills and experience related to working in that field. You’re also more likely to have opportunities for work placements and professional networking as part of your study.
The best way to make a decision about what subjects to do is to work backwards. Think about what kind of job you might like in the future and find out what skills or qualifications you’ll need. You can start your research with our Career profiles section or our Plan your career pages.
Where to study – choosing a uni
Once you have an idea of what you’d like to study you’ll need to find out where you can study it.
There are around a dozen universities in Victoria, based in over 20 locations across the state, and even more universities spread out over the whole country.
Often a course will be offered by many universities across the state (for example, you can study engineering at universities in Melbourne, Bendigo or Geelong).
For more about picking a university course and campus, check out our Choosing a course page.
How to apply for a university course
If you want to study at university in Victoria, you can apply for most university courses through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). Note that some courses need you to do more than just apply through VTAC, like sitting entrance exams or submitting folios of your work.
It's important to know about all of the entrance requirements for all the courses you're interested in. You also need to know the dates those requirements are due. VTAC's Making an Application page is a good place to start finding out.
More about uni life
For more about starting out at university, check out these pages on Youth Central: