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Future study

A parent's simple guide to university admissions

This article appears in: High school to uni, Starting your studies
Parent helping teen with university admissions

When it comes to tertiary education, school leavers are spoilt for choice. With so many courses available and so many study options it can feel overwhelming. This is where you can help.  

As a parent you play an important role in helping your child to make decisions about the educational path they’ll take and helping them understand the admissions process. But first, you need to understand it yourself.

Choosing what to study

When faced with so much choice, many high school students struggle to decide on what to study. To help ease this stress, it’s worth starting the conversation about their options early.

Throughout high school (and particularly the later years), help your child to identify what they’re passionate about, what their strengths are, and where they see themselves in the future. Be open and flexible to them changing their mind. It’s all part of the process.

Help your child to think about different career paths and encourage them to read and gather information about what study is needed to achieve these goals. Information can be obtained from sources such as course guides, university websites, school career counsellors, or they may be inspired by stories from university students.

Nearer to the time of application, attend university open days, information sessions and student expos. Having the chance to chat with lecturers and current students is a good way for your child to gain an insight into the courses available and university life.

It’s also a good idea to encourage your child to chat to their career counsellor for additional guidance in narrowing down their choices and assisting with the application process.

Once your child has decided on what they'd like to study, it's time to start thinking about applications.

Admission pathways

At CDU, the most common criteria used for entry is an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR).

The rank is mainly used by universities to figure out which students will be offered a place in a tertiary course. ATARs are calculated to reflect the rank of a student in relation to other students.

It's not a score, and is not the average mark they've received for assessments and exams. For example, an ATAR of 90.00 simply means a student has performed as well as, or better than, 90% of their student cohort across Australia.

However, if your child has not achieved the required ATAR for entry into a course, there are other flexible admission pathways, especially at CDU!

These include:

  • A vocational education and training (VET) or TAFE award of Certificate III or higher
  • A Special Tertiary Admissions Test with a score of 135
  • Successful completion of at least one semester of full-time study of a degree or diploma
  • Successful completion of a CDU enabling program or other recognised tertiary preparation course
  • Experience based entry
  • Find out more about pathways to study here

It's important to remind your child that there's more than one way to enter a degree.

Not getting the ATAR they wanted might throw a spanner in the works, but it certainly isn't the end of the world or even the end of your child's dream career. 

The admissions process

To study at university, your child needs to register and fill out an application through the South Australian Tertiary Admission Centre (SATAC).

Year 12 students will need a candidate number to apply for undergraduate studies. This ensures correct processing fees are charged and the admissions centre can access their Year 12 results.

Applications open in early August before the year of admission.

To complete the application, your child will need to fill in personal details, qualifications, and up to six course preferences. Changes can be made to these preferences later so it's not set in stone!

Top tip: Make sure a personal email address is used for all applications and not your child’s high school email.

This email terminates when they leave school, so they won’t receive any correspondence from the admissions centre or conformation of their offer if they use it.

If your child’s application is successful, they’ll receive an offer via email from the university. This will include instructions on how to enrol in their units.

Now all they'll need to do is accept and get excited about the next chapter in the lives!

For more information on applying to study with CDU, contact our friendly admissions team today.

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