It’s subject selection season for Year 10s and 11s! As such, we thought we’d get one of our resident forum geniuses to talk to you about uni extension subjects. So here’s Stephen – a 2015 grad with some awesome insights into what these programs involve. If you're keen to learn what university is like, Uni Notes is the place to be!
Can’t get enough of maths? Love chemistry but feel like the VCE Chemistry course doesn’t quite cut it for you? A passion for Biology? Economics? Psychology? Or too good for French 3/4? Doing an uni extension subject in year 12 might be just the thing for you!
Uni extension subjects are offered by a range of universities in Victoria. They provide enthusiastic students with the opportunity to complete up to two university subjects during their Year 12. This means you can get a head-start on your university studies, as well as a decent ATAR contribution.
My uni extension experience
Being an out-and-out maths nerd, I studied Mathematics through Melbourne Uni’s UMEP program in 2015, and absolutely loved it. In fact, it was probably one of the subjects I enjoyed most during my VCE. Looking back, applying to UMEP was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Doing uni extension maths gave me so much more insight into maths in general, satiating my curiosity, but whetting my appetite to study more. And I experienced what studying at uni was really like – doing assignments (instead of SACs!), and sitting a real uni exam at the end of the year.
What’s more, there’s an uni extension subject for pretty much every discipline – from Information Technology to German to Earth Sciences. Whatever your passion is, chances are that you’ll have the opportunity to pursue it!
Basic info about uni extension programs
Which universities offer uni extension programs?
What uni extension subjects can I study?
The list of subjects is very extensive. For instance, Melbourne Uni’s program has 29 subject areas available in 2017, including science, engineering, commerce, and arts subjects. Monash’s MUEP program offers another 13 subject areas, also covering science, commerce, and arts. RMIT have a similar selection to Monash with 16 subjects available.
What does it take to do a uni extension subject?
To apply for an extension program, you’ll need to deal directly with the relevant university. Entry into extension programs is often quite selective. Therefore, you’ll need a strong overall academic record from school, especially in the subject you’re applying for. For instance, when I applied for UMEP Maths in Year 12, I had to submit my Year 11 school reports. Likewise, if you wanted to do Psychology as a uni extension subject, you’d want to have decent grades (i.e. A or A+ average) in VCE Psychology and similar humanities subjects.
In general, although completing the relevant 3/4 subject in year 11 is great and gives a lot of background for the uni subject, it is not essential to getting a place in uni extension – so don’t count yourself out! Even though some universities may state that you need the 3/4 subject, it’s generally not a hard-and-fast rule.
Usually, a good academic record will be enough to carry your application across!
Personally, I was discouraged from doing Maths as a uni extension subject because I hadn’t yet completed Methods 3/4. However, I had very high grades in Methods 1/2 and an overall strong mathematical background. That was enough to get me in, so make sure you explore your options!
NOTE: Applications for most universities open in August, so keep an eye out for them!
What are the benefits of uni extension programs?
• You get to complete up to 2 subjects (one per semester) at leading universities in Victoria.
• You’ll be eligible to obtain credit for those subjects later on when you start uni (meaning they can contribute to your degree).
• You’ll have a head start into your course! Most students can skip the relevant first year subjects and start on second year subjects once they get to uni.
• The extension subject will count towards your ATAR as a 5th or 6th subject. This is done by way of an aggregate increment. Generally speaking:
90+ average = 5.0 aggregate contribution (equivalent to 50).
80+ average = 4.5 aggregate contribution (equivalent to 45).
70+ average = 4.0 aggregate contribution (equivalent to 40).
… and so on!
• You’ll be able to experience what life at uni is like! By the end, you’ll know all about lectures (yay), tutorials (yay), practicals (yay), and exams (oh noes).
How much does it cost?
The cost of completing an extension subject really depends on which university you’re choosing. Many offer extension programs for free! You’ll have to see the university webpages for detailed information, but here’s a quick summary.
The University of Melbourne’s UMEP program is free (although for certain subjects taught at school centres, the school may charge a moderate fee). MUEP at Monash University costs $450/semester. RMIT’s VCE Extend program is free.
Some extension subjects require you to travel either to the university itself or school-centres on a regular basis, so travel times or costs are also worth considering.
So… what’s it like?
For starters, workload varies across extension subjects. Some (e.g. maths) have fairly light workloads, and others (e.g. chemistry) have comparatively heavy ones. I’d advise being ‘optimistically realistic’ about the workload. Bear in mind, however, that uni extension subject teachers understand that you’re going to be swamped with Year 12 commitments, and chances are there will be a lot of support!
And doing a uni extension subject at a particular institution doesn’t ‘lock’ you in to studying there in future. You could do an extension subject at Melbourne Uni even if you have every intention of going to Monash. Most of the time, the institutions will have a system to ‘cross-credit’ the uni extension subject you’ve completed. This means it can still count towards your degree even if you’re studying elsewhere.
If you want more information or would like to hear some more specific first-hand accounts, take a look at the Insight into University Enhancement Programs thread. And, if you have any questions regarding uni extension, head straight over to the University Enhancement Programs board here on ATAR Notes.
A final reminder…
Applications for uni extension open in AUGUST, so make sure you get your application in on time!