How to apply to university

The easy-to-follow guide for high school students.

Everything you need to do pre, during and post HSC to apply to university.

If your next step after high school is a university, you must undertake a formal application process during your HSC to get in the door. That’s why we have created this easy-to-follow guide to ensure you don't miss any key dates. 


You need to complete a few things before your HSC to get you on the path to uni. Hopefully, you applied to UOW's Early Admission program to secure a spot in your dream course before sitting your exams.

Your other option is to apply through the University's Admission Centre (UAC). UAC is a single application for all universities across NSW, not just UOW. If you would like to apply for an interstate university, you'll have to go through the corresponding admissions centre (VTAC for Victoria and QTAC for Queensland etc.)

You can select up to five degrees or diplomas in your UAC application, and these should be ranked in your order of preference. After you receive your ATAR, UAC will provide an offer to the highest ranked degree where you meet the entry requirements. In short, put your dream course first!

You should aim to submit your preferences before 30 September to ensure you only pay the $73 application fee. You will pay a lot more if you wait until after the HSC.

During the HSC

You should focus on studying and doing your best in your exams. The university stuff can wait until after you've finished. You can always check in with us after your exams if you want more guidance on your preferences and application.

University can seem daunting during high school, but this is not the case. We are excited to welcome you here and want to help you achieve your goals. We are always available to answer your questions or work through your next steps.


UAC will release your HSC results and ATAR on 15 December, and you have until 16 December to rearrange your preferences.

A lot can change between submitting your initial preferences and receiving your marks, so this is an opportunity to confirm your choices. After midnight the system will lock, and universities will begin to send out their offers based on your preferences. If you land your first choice, congrats! You then formalise the offer through enrolment with the uni.

However, not everyone's journey to uni will look the same. Here are a few common scenarios you may face.

What if I don't get the ATAR I need?

You still have options. Plenty of them.

If you received an Early Admission offer, this is still valid. We already assessed you on other criteria and your offer is not dependent on your ATAR. We will reach out if we have any concerns about the ATAR you did receive and your suitability for the course/s we have offered you through Early Admission. Otherwise, you can begin enrolling into University.

With your UAC application, you don't need to change your first preference, even if your mark is a little short of the published cut-off for the course. ATAR adjustments based on high school, equity and outstanding performance in relevant subjects can give you those extra points to get over the line for first-round offers.

Universities release offers in stages, so you have more than one shot at your preferred degree. If you don't get your first preference, the system will consider your next preferred course and go down the list until it can match you with an offer in its first round.

You may not receive an offer for your first choice in December, but universities can reconsider you if there are places still available in January and February. It's a good idea to make a note of the UAC key dates in your calendar so you can stay ahead of the game.

My ATAR is way off what I need for my course. So what are my options now?

Do not stress. Many days will define your life, but this is not one of them. You can still get into your dream course, and UOW staff are here to help you draw up your new blueprint.

You can talk to our Future Students team about your marks and degree options, and they will help you reassess and rearrange your preferences to get you where you want to be.  

You can look at other degrees with a lower cut-off that can lead to your dream career. You can also begin studying a related degree and transfer after six to 12 months. Plenty of UOW pathways programs and diplomas can even parachute you into your first preference's second year of study.  

I aced my ATAR. Should I change my preferences? 

Your first preference should be the course that leads you to your dream career. If you now qualify for a degree that you thought was out of reach but is now a reality, switch that to your top spot. However, your degree of choice should be something you’re passionate about.