Support your teenager before university

From Years 12 and 13 until the start of university, you can support your child towards success and independence.

Choosing subjects at school

Students often ask what subjects they should take at school to help prepare them for particular subject areas at university.

Keep in mind that some qualifications and first year undergraduate courses (100-level) require particular NCEA, IB, Cambridge or other schooling results. Make sure that your child checks the entry requirements for both the courses and qualifications they are interested in. It is also very important that they take at least four or five UE approved subjects.

Some subjects, like mathematics, Chemistry and Physics, build on the basics students have learnt at school. However, students can still enrol in a specific degree/major/course if they have not studied a related subject at school. In nearly all cases, there are introductory or bridging courses offered if your child has a limited background those subject areas.

For more detailed information about entrance requirements see Apply and enrol.

Our 2023 Best Prep Flyer is a useful guide to help students pick school subjects.

Our interactive best prep tool (on this linked page) can provide online guidance about subjects needed for a specific qualification.

Choosing what to study at university

Choosing what to study at university can be difficult. It’s a good idea to do some research and browse Subjects offered at UC. Encourage your child to think about their skills, interests and the values that are important to them and how they relate to those subject areas.

Our subject guide can help your child identify possible qualificaitons to study based on subjects they enjoy.

Your child might want to study a degree that will help them to get a particular job. Some roles, like engineers or lawyers demand a specific degree. Your child can explore career options with these services, tools and websites:

  • The Liaison Team at UC

The Liaison Team can help first-time students to make an informed decision about their study options.

  • Careers, Internships & Employment

Careers, Internships & Employment offers advice on the career implications of subject choices, as well as details of specific jobs, employers and postgraduate courses.

 Their website also provides helpful guidance on NCEA and subject selection

  • Careers New Zealand

Careers New Zealand offer a number of interactive tools with information about different careers and the skills required.

Skills to work on before starting university

As well as supporting your child with getting prepared, you can:

  • Encourage independent learning skills

Your child should take all opportunities in their last years at school to develop these skills. If they are well organised and know how to work independently, it will help them succeed.

  • Encourage self-motivation and focus

Students should understand why they are going to university and focus on developing some long-term goals: both career and personal. Their motivation is critical to their success, and you will help by letting them make up their own minds.

Students should study what they enjoy and are interested in, while keeping their career goals in mind.

  • Help them learn how to ask for help

There are many people employed at university to help students succeed, including lecturers, tutors, faculty staff and student services. Students should familiarise themselves with our services and should learn to ask when they aren’t sure.

  • Encourage them to be open to new ideas, concepts, people and change

University is an opportunity to get involved with different people and different activities, new subjects and challenging ideas. Your child will need to arrive with an open mind that allows them to take advantage of these opportunities.

  • Help them build a skill set to live independently

Students should be able to cook (even students in catered halls usually go flatting in their second or third years), do laundry, be armed with an up-to-date CV for part-time job hunting and understand how to budget.