Tips for changing your uni course preferences

Scroll Down

The wait is over – you’ve finally received your ATAR! Whether you did better than or not as well as you expected, or if you’ve simply changed your mind, you now have the opportunity to change your preferences. For school leavers (and non-school leavers who have applied to university through VTAC), the Change of Preference period provides the opportunity to add, remove or re-order courses on your preference list. If you’re thinking about taking advantage of the Change of Preference period, read these tips to make sure any changes you make are the right ones.

Familiarise yourself with key dates

For Victorian residents, the December Change of Preference period closes on 20 December at 12 noon. Please note, some courses have extra requirements that need to have been fulfilled by set dates and these courses cannot be added to your preference list once these dates have passed. So, if you’re thinking about adding a course, make sure you check with the relevant institution that you haven’t missed the deadline. Visit the Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre (VTAC) website for more information on key dates and processes.

Use your ATAR to find out what’s realistic

Now that you have your ATAR, you can check it against the 2016 clearly-in ATARs for the course(s) you want to study. While clearly-in ATARs change from year to year according to how many students preference the course, they provide a good indication of what the following year’s clearly-in ATAR will be. Remember, if your ATAR is just a little below what you need for your preferred course, it is still really important to keep it on your preference list, as the clearly-in ATAR might move up or down. Plus, other selection processes such as the Special Entry Access Scheme (SEAS) or subject bonuses can make you eligible for a course if you’re ATAR is just below the clearly-in. On the flip side, it’s probably a bit ambitious to add a course that has a 2016 clearly-in ATAR 20 points above your ATAR, as it’s unlikely that a clearly-in ATAR would change that much in one year.

Check you’re qualified

If you want to add courses to your preference list, don’t forget to check that you’ve completed any relevant prerequisites and extra requirements. If you haven’t, you’ll be ineligible for entry to the course, even if your ATAR is much higher than the clearly-in ATAR for that course. Some courses will require you to complete other requirements like an interview or submit a folio and often these have to be completed by set dates. You can check with the relevant institution or VTAC for information on prerequisites and extra requirements.

Remember that the order is important

Aim for your ultimate course and list courses in the order you want to study them, not the order in which you think you will get in. You will only receive one Round 1 offer – the highest preference you are eligible for – so it’s important to get your course list as accurate as possible, in preference order, before the December Change of Preference period closes. While you will have the opportunity to change your preferences again in January, this will be after Round 1 offers have been released and not all institutions participate in subsequent offer rounds. So you shouldn’t plan to add a course after Round 1 offers as you might not have the opportunity to do so.

Don’t change your preferences for the sake of it

If the courses you initially selected are still your most preferred, there is no need to change your preferences. For example, if your ATAR is higher than you expected, you shouldn’t necessarily change your first preference to a course with a high clearly-in ATAR to ‘use up’ all of your ATAR. The most important thing is to pick courses that you’d actually want to study and that match your interests, strengths and ambitions. Contrary to what some people believe, courses that have higher clearly-in ATARs are not necessarily superior in quality or difficulty – clearly-in ATARs are determined based on the course’s popularity relative to how many places are available.

Consider pathway options

Even if you don’t get the ATAR required to get in to your dream course, don’t give up. Most courses have pathway options you can take that could enable you to transfer into the course of your choice after one or two years. Course advisers at the relevant institution will be able to recommend an appropriate pathway plan that you can undertake, such as completing a TAFE course, studying an associate degree or starting the course at a different campus with the intention to transfer. You could also check out similar courses with a lower clearly-in ATAR offered by the same or other institutions – you may be able to get credit for study you complete and use it to transfer to your dream course later. It’s a good idea to include a couple of pathway courses lower down on your preference list to maximise your options and give you peace of mind until offers are released.

Arm yourself with all the information you can

Talk to university staff and attend events to find out your options. Many institutions, including Deakin University, run information sessions and online chat during Change of Preference so you can find out everything you need to know. Before you add a course or move a course higher up your preference list, make sure you’ve gathered all the information you can to make sure it’s a good fit for you.

For handy information about Change of Preference, including details of some upcoming events where you can get your questions answered face-to-face, visit the Deakin University website.

Topics