Cal didn’t get the ATAR he needed for the double degree of law and journalism he wanted to study. What he did get, however, was an Early Admission offer to that very degree before he sat his first HSC exam. Three and a half years on, we ask Cal how he did it, and how he’s going.

The application

I was good at English and being someone who is pretty fascinated in the past I adored Modern History. My Extension History major project was all about treaties and international laws, and that got me interested in the area of law.

I was attracted to Wollongong as a university and as a city, and it was one of the few places that combined journalism and law into a double degree, so I went ahead and applied to UOW Early Admission after hearing about it from our school’s Vice Principal.

The interview

It was extremely nerve-wracking, but once I got in and the interviewers started asking me questions, I found it quite easy going and relaxing. The questions were mostly about the subjects I was taking in school, like ‘what made you pick up Extension 2 English?’ and ‘what is your Extension History project about?’. The second half of the interview was when we really got talking about university.

The offer

I got an offer! Even though my marks in maths weren’t outstanding going into the interview, (I picked up the subject before I really knew what I wanted to do and never really excelled), I think my marks in subjects more related to law and journalism were solid enough to assure them I would stick the degree out, and my answers showed I was passionate enough about law and journalism to keep myself motivated through the next five years.

“I just thought about my interview and how they must have seen something in me to believe that I could do it, and I just had to do the same.”


My Early Admission offer took all the pressure off for me. Knowing I already had a place studying something I was passionate about was a weight off my mind. Not just in terms of the exams but also knowing what I’d be doing the next year. It was suddenly more about making myself proud and doing the best I could with less external pressures.

The belief

I was nervous about going to uni after I realised my ATAR was lower than the cut off for Law/Journalism at UOW. I was expecting to be one of those people you hear about who go into something way too advanced for them and end up dropping it after a year or two.
But I just thought about my interview and how they must have seen something in me to believe that I could do it, and I just had to do the same.

The degree

I remember telling myself each week in that first semester to ‘just keep going. If you can get past this week you are that much closer to proving you are capable of being here’. Then that once a week turned into once a month, then once a semester.
I’m now into the third year of my degree and doing just as well as – if not better than – others in my degree who gained entry solely on their ATAR. I’m now comfortable enough to start planning where I can head once this degree is all finished.

The future

The great thing about my law/journalism degree is that it opens so many doors for me. My dream job would be doing something like what John Oliver does on HBO where he uses journalism to entertain and inform.
But for the moment I am thankful that I am able to study something I enjoy and want to do.

UOW Early Admission applications are now open. Apply before 5pm Friday 26 August and earn your place at UOW before your first HSC exam.

Note: UOW expects that – just like Cal – your HSC marks will match or exceed those shown in your Early Admission application. So while you’ll still have to study for your exams (sorry about that), you’ll go into them with the confidence that we’ve got a place waiting just for you.