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How to Get Into University as an Aussie Homeschooler


The world of university, seemingly ruled by scores, tests and A+ grades, can be confusing, if not daunting, for any homeschooler. As an Australian, however, it can be much more stressful, due to the lack of information on the subject. This post will share what I, as an Aussie homeschool graduate, have learnt through my research and personal experience. (Note to US readers - Please be aware that this is based on the Australian system of education and so some of the year levels and testing systems may be different than you are used to.)

There are three main pathways that are used to gain entry into university in Australia.

This is the score that you get at a traditional school when you have finished your year twelve subjects. As homeschoolers do not attend a tradition school, this is a difficult pathway for them.

The STAT test is a test that students can take to prove that they are academically able to study at university. Most university admissions centres facilitate these tests at set times of the year, generally before the start of each admissions cycle. These tests can be helpful for homeschoolers because they enable you to obtain formal recognition of your academic skill in the absence of an ATAR score. However, STAT tests do come at a fee and, depending on how your homeschooling has been set up, can require months of study and preparation to familiarise yourself with the unique testing style of the STAT test.

This is the model that I am the most familiar with, as it was the pathway that I used to gain entry into the university course that I am currently studying. I think perhaps the best way to explain this pathway would be to share my personal experience. As a child, I enjoyed study and had made a point to challenge myself with how much ‘schooling’ I could complete each day. As I reached my early teens and became more independent in my studies, I continued this and, eventually, ended up completing my coursework, up until year ten level, by the time I turned 15. At the time I was interested in studying nursing and so my parents and I did a lot of research into the various pathways that I could use to gain entry into university. In the end, I could either continue studying general topics as a homeschooler for another two years and then go and sit a STAT test, or I could study a certificate IV at Tafe to meet the entry requirements. The particular certificate IV that I was looking at studying was only one semester as well, so I would be able to start studying nursing at university much sooner. Fairly quickly, we decided that studying through Tafe would be the better option for me. Another thing that attracted us was that the certificate that I wanted to study was offered externally, so I could study from home, which I was already used to because of homeschooling, and the Education Department was happy for us to use the Tafe studies to meet their study requirements. I went ahead and completed the certificate and managed to complete the coursework in good time. As it happened, God shut the door for me to go on and study nursing at that time and I went on to study two more Tafe courses externally, one in business and another in tourism. After a gap of a couple of years, in which God taught me many lessons and enabled me to try many different things, God led me to investigate the area of midwifery. This was something that I had been interested in for quite some time, but I wasn’t sure whether it would ever be something that I pursued formally. Anyway, as both my parents and I considered and prayed about it, God led us to explore universities that offer a bachelor of midwifery externally, of which there are two in Australia. I applied to both, using my original certificate IV to meet the admission requirements. I was accepted by my first preference, and now my days are filled with textbooks, assignments, stethoscopes and the occasional blog post.

So that’s my experience. Now for a few Q&A’s

What if my Tafe won’t let my study a certificate IV straight away?
Different Tafes act differently on this one, some will let you and some won’t. You might need to study one or two lower certificates before they will let you study a certificate IV. This may take you more time, but if you pick your courses well, you can learn some valuable skills in the process. It probably wouldn’t take you as long as completing years 11 and 12 would anyway. Or, perhaps you could try studying at a different Tafe.

What courses can you study externally?
There are many areas that you can study externally through Tafe including finance, business, youth work, aged care, education support, nursing preparation, hospitality, general education, local government, management, small business, retail and tourism for a start. You can even study for a builder’s registration externally.

What if my Tafe is not friendly to homeschoolers?
This does happen. Tafes can be funny about accepting homeschooled students, especially into a certificate III or IV. From my experience, one of their biggest concerns is whether the homeschoolers are academically ready to study at a Tafe level. One method that generally fixes this problem is to bring in a selection of the student’s best work, such as essays, reports, maths awards and other projects, and show these to the lecturer who is running the course you with to study. Often this will be enough to show the lecturer that the student is serious and hardworking. Depending on the course, you may even be able to get recognition of prior learning (RPL) for some of those projects. If the lecturer is still not convinced, you may need to start at a lower level certificate. Either way, at least you will be heading in the right direction.

Written by Sabrina


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