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Picking the right degree

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Sometimes life isn’t smooth sailing. You may encounter a Debilitating Nasal Fungus, a Disastrously Nasty Friendship/Family, Dire Never-ending Finances, or other Disadvantaged Non-foreseeable Factors that force you to reduce or withdraw from your semester study.

Then there's the ‘Discontinue Not Fail’ (DNF) deadline – but what is it, and what do you have to do about it?



Normally university education and fortune-telling don’t go together, but if you’re interested in finding out what studying at Sydney Uni will be like, then you should definitely be coming to Open Day!



Whether you want to cultivate a career in criminology or Chinese relations, or have aspirations in art curation or architecture, the Postgrad Expo this Saturday 31 August is the place to start.



Research degrees provide access to like-minded peers and a very deep understanding in a very narrow field. However, the ability to express our ideas in an engaging way outside of our fields, or to think about our research in professional or even commercial contexts beyond academia, are areas that are often neglected. But where do we find the training resources needed to hone these skills, and how do we find the time to practice them?



As part of my engineering degree, I have to do 3 months work experience with an engineer in the industry this summer. I was really worried at the start of the year – how will I get an internship position? What if I miss out? I’d heard stories from friends saying that they’d put tonnes of applications to companies, only to be rejected by a lot of them...



Dear Sydney University,

I would like to receive a scholarship because it has always been my dream to attend Hogwarts. After being terribly disappointed in not receiving my Hogwarts acceptance letter when I was 11 years old (I’m sure they made a mistake!), I have now decided that my next best option is to attend Sydney University. This is a why I deserve a scholarship.

I hope I can bring my owl to class.*

(* My sources inform me that this letter may or may not be an actual scholarship application received by the university.)


My sources inform me that the scholarship money may or may not be secretly guarded by dragons in a vault beneath the Bank Building.

What type of ships are worth a total of $65 million, don't not sail on water but will help you immensely to navigate through the high seas of higher education?



It has been a while since I was in Year 10, but something I'll never forget was how stressful it was deciding what subjects I'd pick for the impending HSC. Not only was it time to actually start thinking about what I wanted to do with myself*, but it seemed like there was a new language to become fluent in too. Words like “ATAR” and “scaling” were casually tossed around, yet seemed key to being able to do what I wanted. All of a sudden I had to start making some big steps, but was scared to step anywhere for fear of jeopardising it all. So what should you do?


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Journalist. Politician. Lawyer. As professions go, these are some of the least trusted and most hated of all in society – and I happen to study all three! So why pick these subjects, and why study a combined degree?



Thinking about studying at Sydney, but not sure if you'll get a high enough ATAR for your chosen course? Come to our Revesby event to find your path to Sydney...


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Hi everyone, I’m Matt – a fifth year Engineering/Medical Science student. Often my friends ask me why I chose to study such a combined degree. I am quick to tell them that Biomedical Engineering, as opposed to more traditional disciplines like civil, is quite different. It involves using engineering techniques to solve health problems, something I find fascinating. So why should you consider a combined degree?



Being a law student at Sydney Uni is not just about avoiding the pretentious people.

I’m a third-year Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Law student (although I once told a health science student that I study a Bachelor of Manning Bar, to which they just looked confused). Basically, being a law student means that while I drink coffee all day and make the most of having only 12 hours of classes a week, I get to complain about how hard my life is that I have to carry heavy textbooks around. So why did I choose this degree?



Popular Masterchef contestant Kylie Millar has just completed her Master of Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney, and took time out from her busy schedule to do a quick Q&A with us:

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What's it like to change countries and careers? Third-year student Audrey Deheinzelin is making the transition from IT to the environment, and represents students on her faculty board and the University’s academic board. She took time out from her busy schedule to do a quick Q&A with us...

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Week Four: the time when you start to think perhaps this whole Uni thing isn’t for you. You have a weird tutor that trails off at the end of her sentences, you can never keep up in lectures and you don’t really understand this whole ‘eLearning’ thing people keep talking about.

It seems at this point – whether you’re completely behind on readings, struggling to understand the basic concepts of your subjects, or haven’t made a single friend – that a lot of students just jump ship entirely.

But that's not the only solution. The HECS Census date is this Sunday, 31 March – your last chance to withdraw from subjects you no longer wish to take without attracting fees or fail marks on your academic record.

Here’s some ways to make this deadline work for you…

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I never really meant to get into med school. I wanted to be a Vet or an Architect in high school, and couldn’t imagine being the lead actor in the blood and guts of TV medicine. I dressed like an architect – matching colours and structured outfits are still my thing – and loved talking to animals at every opportunity. But somehow, I ended up here at Sydney Medical School. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

So how did I get here?



Where can your medical studies at Sydney Uni take you? Brooke Sachs (pictured) is a stage three medical student based at the Royal North Shore Hospital, founder of the rural youth mentoring initiative ‘Avenir’, and the Vice-Chair of the Australian Youth Forum Steering Committee. Despite this daunting workload, she’s made time to do a quick Q&A with us!

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An interest in science fiction and history – and the influence of some inspirational teachers – put Benjamin Pope on a study path that’s taken him around the world.

Now back at Sydney Uni after completing an exchange year at the University of California, Berkeley, where he conducted research with a Nobel Laureate and travelled to an observatory in Hawaii to work with world leaders in astrophysics, Ben has received a University Medal for his honours thesis and is about to start his PhD. “The example of those who've taught me has cemented the importance of nurturing the individual interests of students and helping them find the right field to kindle their excitement”, says Ben, but he didn’t start out with a career in astrophysics in mind.



Enrolment for me was a painful experience when it needn’t have been. At the end of 2010 I was offered a place to study Arts at the University of Sydney. It was so exciting to me. After 6 months working as a receptionist after school and saving all my money, and 6 months touring Europe alone spending all my money, I was ready to study and ready to learn.

I opened the Arts Handbook to choose my subjects and the sheer number available overwhelmed me. I was meant to choose eight junior subjects, four for each semester and these junior subjects needed to lead to the major I wanted to do. I felt like then and there, in the summer after a very long holiday and time off studying I had to plan the entire course of my next three years. I was sufficiently whelmed.
I asked my friends for help choosing and they offered the following pearls of wisdom “do one about aliens, or gender stuff,” “do what you want” and my favourite, “follow your dreams.”

In the end I decided to just wing it, to rock up at enrolment, burst through the doors of MacLaurin Hall, and just choose then and there.

However when I got there, I was nowhere near as bold and confident as I had hoped to be. I received my forms, attempted to fill out a few boxes and then when it came time to choose subjects I froze. I couldn’t decide. Should I do Music? French? Biology? English? The possibilities buzzed around in my brain and I suddenly burst into tears. I looked around through tear-filed eyes. Other people had brought their parents. I should have brought my parents. Or my mum at least. Mum would have known what to do. I franticly scribbled that I would do Music, Biblical Studies, Australian Politics and Sociology and shoved it at the enrolment officer before I could change my mind.

I’ve now just finished my second year and see that my enrolment experience could have been entirely different. You can change your subjects very easily until the HECS census date, which is usually a few weeks into semester. And I only needed to nominate some subjects for the second semester, but could change them very easily too! Uni is much more flexible that school, there is greater choice and thanks to the online admin systems you can do a lot of it yourself at home. If you have any questions about enrolling to study at Sydney in 2013, jump on here and have a read.



I’m coming to the end of my first year of a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications). The course goes for four years, which is longer than most media and journalism courses. There’s good reason for that though!

I’m still quite undecided as to what my ‘end goal’ is, and I’m certainly not alone in that respect within my cohort. But the course caters for indecisiveness – I’ve tried my hand at print journalism, radio, online media and the production side of things, and will do an internship in fourth-year! On top of all these Media units I’ve also decided to undertake a marketing major, which will give me a breadth of knowledge that other degrees wouldn’t have provided me. And my Media lecturers have all had real-world journalism experience, which has been a bonus in terms of learning how to mix lofty theory and practical application.

The range of subjects (media, arts and marketing units) offered by my degree are especially important given the volatile environment the media now finds itself in. Having a broader scope of understanding and learning will hopefully put me in good stead when I’m looking for full-time jobs after graduation.

Another advantage has been the access to experience. I’ve done quite a lot of writing this year for The BULL, where I’ve been able to focus on pop culture and feature writing, but there are other Uni titles for writers more interested in current affairs or international issues.

The malleability of the course means I’ve been able to mould it to fit my own career aspirations and interests. I’d say that’s the best thing about it!

See more information about my course.


The current business environment is more uncertain than ever, and the University of Sydney Business School is definitely no stranger to change. And as a student of theirs for the last two years, I can certainly testify to the exponential trend of improvement and innovation taking place there, and the new Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is part of that change.

The MBA is very exciting news for graduates who are seeking to further their professional careers and become great business leaders in their fields.

But with all the MBA programs already out there, why create another one, and what makes this MBA so special? I believe the answer is very simple – adaptation. There’s no doubt the global business environment is becoming increasingly more complex, and as a result, what is required from business leaders has changed. The University of Sydney’s new MBA degree has been developed to adapt to these circumstances and even has an exclusive partnership with Korn/Ferry International, one of the world’s leading executive talent firms.

It is definitely a great time to be studying business, and I am very proud to be a student at a Business School that is so dedicated to innovation.

For more information, visit the MBA website.

Congratulations class of 2009 for finishing the HSC and being the first people to get an ATAR!
Woohoo! *happy dance*
With the severe shortage of engineers reaching crisis point, I thought I might put a plug to all those not really knowing what they might do with themselves.

1. Save the World
2. Do cool stuff
3. Travel!
4. Create the future
5. Be part of the solution
6. Get free money
7. Have ridiculous fun at uni
8. Everyone thinks you’re smart
9. Epic Friends for life!
10. Engineering degrees – prepares you for anything

Special for women only
11. People like to throw money at you
12. You get hundreds of adorable* men following after you

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In the absence of anything particular that i'd like to critique (whinge about) this week, I thought that with this blog I'd go to the effort of outlining a couple of subjects that form the basis for several courses- it goes without saying that first year subjects of Mechanical Engineering and Molecular Biology would give a pretty good idea of what an education in these areas would entail. I know several people now, for example, who have taken Engineering to discover almost immediately (supposedly) how wrong it is for them- I'm hoping that the bits and pieces I'll throw out to you here can give you a better idea of what course is actually right for you. Then again, nothing beats the experience itself, so don't go taking my word for absolute truth ;)


On the day I got my UAI I learnt one of life’s most important lessons; a great dress can cure even the deepest of disappointments.


Is it just me, or is looking at pictures of Vivienne and Knox more exciting than my media readings?

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Hi guys. You know what’s more useful than this blog? Going to a careers market!!

How friendly do we look? Armidale Careers Market 2008.

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Rewind four years…
‘Pens down.’
Breathe. ‘You’ve done your best, let it go…’ (rational voice floundering in a sea of panic).
‘Oh my gosh, what was I on about? What was that EXAM on about?!’ (whimper)
‘I totally crashed - this is the end of everything!’

I know the sensation. You’ve just been hit by a trial exam curve ball and feel as if the light might slowly slip from the day. Oh the drama…All that hard work misdirected. The gnawing, regretful pain.


Last day for preference choosing is looming ever closer!!!!!!! QUICK!! PANIC!!

No, don’t.

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24 Dec

By now, the phone calls by curious acquaintances are diminishing as you are becoming more and more familiar with your UAI. Now you just have to decide if your first preference* is what you want.

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"I just got my UAI yesterday. Should I follow my heart or follow my parents' advice? Far out I'm so confused. [...] I was once so certain about where I'm going in life... now I'm clueless... Should our lives be dictated by UAI?" - Confused, via email

When I received this comment, I knew I had to answer it with a blog because it's probably a feeling on a lot of people's minds.

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Decisions, decisions, decisions. Now that results are out, it’s time to gather all the information you need to make those crucial last minute decisions.

The good news is an army of students, academic experts and course advisors are here to help. The even better news is that you can access them all at once via one useful number:

1300 362 006

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Is anybody out there?

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This has become my new response when people ask me what I’m studying at uni, since “awesome, can you read my mind???” is the #1 question I get after telling someone I do psych. And now I can totally trip people out before they’ve even asked...

So what’s the Bachelor of Psychology all about?

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A friend’s brother thought he would be funny and told me a story about his toilets at work. Apparently, someone had written above the toilet paper dispenser:

please take one

Needless to say, being a proud Arts/Law student, I was fuming…

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My post earlier on a key debate in feminism caused some controversy which is good. Some have asked what it had to do with uni life, and my answer is simple.

Beyond the bars, clubs & societies, sports and cultural events is what uni life is really about: learning.


About the Blog

Everything you ever wanted to know about uni but were too afraid to ask....