[31/05/14 Edit: I wrote this article in my first year of university. In hindsight, I did not put enough research into a university’s research interests and other administrative aspects. For example, Monash University has its own astrophysics major, unlike many other universities, such as the University of Melbourne.
The University of Melbourne and the University of New South Sales (UNSW) currently undertake joint research in quantum computing. This is in contrast to a university like Monash, which does little research (as far as I understand) in quantum computing.
That being said, this kind of research is certainly not extremely important. Having gone to Monash University, I was lucky in that Monash had the astrophysics major and I happened to have an interest in astrophysics. But I’m sure I would still have been happy if I were to only be ‘relegated’ to maths and physics had I gone to the University of Melbourne.
Another piece of advice I can give is not to be afraid of choosing a course that you have little experience in if you’re extremely interested in the area. There’s always a way to catch up. For example, if you didn’t do physics in VCE, but you’re really interested in black holes, then give a Science degree a chance! You’ll do an intensive course in maths and physics (and normally Science degrees are broad enough to fit in many other things).
Now, you can listen to some of my views from 2011 below…]
Choosing a university and a particular course varies in difficulty from person to person. Most young people around the age of 18 have little idea what kind of profession they want to enter. Here are some general tips:
If you are unsure of what course you want to do, choose a broad field and lean towards what you are good at. The University of Melbourne’s controversial Melbourne Model was designed to cater for young people unsure about their future careers by giving them a lot of room for breadth. (As a side note, many of my classmates have a problem with the Melbourne Model because it makes a direct path into Medicine considerably harder and longer; nevertheless, I think the overall effect of the Melbourne Model is positive.)
Choose the course, not the university. Many ambitious students attempt a course they are not interested in so that they can enter a prestigious university. They then try to achieve good grades so that they can transfer into the course they actually want to do. The sad truth is, as my course advisers at school pointed out, because those students aren’t interested in their subjects, they tend to become detached and achieve mediocre results. They may well be stuck in a university and possibly a profession that they have no interest in. Course choice is first priority, university choice is second.
Your course advisers should tell you everything you need to know, including the points I have already mentioned. Remember to go to any course adviser presentations at your high school, go to university open days and also carefully read all the VTAC pamphlets you will receive throughout Year 12.