Are you worried about what university programmes you should choose? The deadline for the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (Jupas) is December 2, but many students don't know where to start. When there are hundreds of programmes it's hard to narrow it down to just 20 choices, especially when you don't have your DSE results yet.
Young Post has some useful advice to help you decide.
How important is Band A?
The first three choices - in Band A - play a crucial role in your Jupas application. According to the Hong Kong Association of Careers Masters and Guidance Masters (HKACMGM) newsletter for the Jupas seminar this month, most Band A applicants were accepted to their choice of university in 2015. For example, more than 99 per cent of students at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chinese University (CUHK) and the University of Science and Technology (HKUST) were Band A applicants. For most universities, putting one of their courses down as a Band A option means you have a higher chance of being invited for an interview.
How can you make the most of Band A?
Ng Po-shing, director of Hok Yau Club Student Guidance Centre, which provides career and further education information, encourages Form Six students to devise a strategy for their choices in Band A. "Students can put their favourite programme as their first choice [A1]. The programmes in A1 can be very competitive and hard to get into, so students can select less competitive programmes as their second choice [A2]. But they should make sure the third choice [A3] is one that is likely to give you an offer. By doing this, A3 serves as a backup choice - it's the least adventurous and safest choice," says Ng.
Ng stresses the importance of striking a balance between interest and ability. "I know some students are very interested in medicine, but if you put medicine as a Band A choice when you know you probably won't get great DSE results, you are just wasting your Band A choices, and you miss out on the opportunity to get into another university."
How about Bands B to E?
Although using Band A is the best way of trying to secure a spot on a competitive programme, another strategy is to make good use of other bands, especially Band B. According to the HKACMGM, 17 per cent of the Open University of Hong Kong's students came from Band B in 2015.
At City University of Hong Kong, six per cent of students came from Band B in 2015. You can adopt the same strategy for Band B as for Band A: your fourth choice, (B4), can be a more competitive programme while the sixth choice (B6) should be a safe guarantee.
It can be hard to decide which 20 to choose, but Ng says there are two main strategies: either put more associate degree or higher diploma programmes as backup choices, or choose more competitive programmes which push you to work harder for the DSE.
Joseph Tsang Chi-to, the HKACMGM chairperson, said that the top priority should be given to interest. "With the provision of Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors, student have more choices so they should consider if they are really interested in the programmes they select," said Tsang.
Will combined DSE results be considered?
All universities will consider the best results in their "combined cert". However, some programmes at HKU and CUHK, for example, impose a penalty on applications with combined HKDSE results. Check with individual universities for details.
Can Ielts and Toefl replace DSE English?
No, except for those who want to study at Baptist University. For Jupas applicants, all other universities only recognise DSE English results (minimum is Level 3).
What about non-Jupas applicants?
Ng said non-Jupas applicants have to be very careful with application deadlines and details. The deadline for Main Round applications for HKU and HKUST is December 30 (noon) and January 3, 2016, respectively. He added that with this route, universities focus more on students' performance in the interviews so being able to highlight your strengths and experiences is important.