How to choose a university

By Sean Mortell

Thanks to advancements in technology, high school students have more information regarding university than ever before. It's not just a random pick, a mystery selection based on what offers you receive and what name sounds nice. Instead, a combination of online resources and advice from experienced people who have been there before can impact a Year 12 during the decision making process.

The expertise a university may have in a certain area

This is the first factor considered. After you've worked out what you want to be after high school, you can weigh up institutions based on this information. For instance, La Trobe is known for specialising in health sciences, while University of Melbourne is highly regarded for general science. RMIT is considered better for media, and Monash is superior in law and business. Therefore, once you know the general area you're interested in, you can narrow your options.

Culture and reputation

The proliferation of the internet and social media has led to the prestige, popularity and inner workings of universities being more readily available to prospective students. Some may care greatly about the institution's reputation in the academic sphere, whereas others may pay more attention to campus life and college culture. Considering universities are such an unknown entity for many high school students, clarity and advice from people who have already experienced this different life provides valuable insight when it comes to selecting a university.

The ATAR required

Thanks to online services such as ATAR Calculator, where you can estimate study scores to get a predicted ATAR number, Year 12s can begin to compare these possibilities with what requirements each university puts up. This can quickly begin to shape what choices are made for after school, as some people who know that they are capable of an ATAR over 90 will aim for the university that provides the course with the highest score for a certain area. Conversely, people who aren't as motivated or who don't feel capable of a lofty score may instead choose another university that provides the same course yet with a lower entry requirement.


Once upon a time, a university's location could deter potential students depending on their living situation but improved technology has paved the way for people from all around Australia to study remotely. This means that closeness to home isn't as important, yet it is still a relevant consideration when it comes to choosing a university. Public transport, as well as traffic, can soak up plenty of time and money, so sometimes picking between two universities can come down to which one is easier to access. Many students wish to study abroad, which is not offered at all universities, so this becomes an important factor for this demographic.

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