Tips for choosing your uni preferences

If you’re in Year 12 and planning to apply to university, you will need to familiarise yourself with the VTAC application process, which includes choosing your university preferences.

Course applications are made online via Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC). The VTAC course application allows you to apply for up to eight courses in order of preference. Selecting your university course preference list doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

Tips for creating your preference list

With so many choices in front of you, sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. Create a clearer path forward with these simple steps you can put into practice right here and now.
Familiarise yourself with the process and deadlines

Familiarise yourself with the process and deadlines

For Victorian residents, most undergraduate applications for courses starting in Trimester 1 are submitted online through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC), unless stated otherwise in the admission guidelines. VTAC applications usually open in August and late applications will continue to be accepted until early December (fee applies). Learn more about application closing dates and how to apply for courses through VTAC.

Gather as much information as possible

Browse course pages and student life information on university websites, read course guides, attend events like Open Day so you can talk to staff to get all the information you need. Universities have faculty and career advisers who are ready and willing to help, especially when it comes to choosing your course preferences.

Non-Victorian residents should refer to their state or territory’s tertiary admissions centre for relevant information regarding how to apply and application closing dates.

Check entry requirements carefully

Most courses have at least one prerequisite subject that needs to have been completed to qualify you for entry and some courses have additional requirements like interviews, tests, folios or auditions. Entry requirements for similar courses can vary greatly so it pays to double check them.

List the courses in order of preference

Regardless of whether you think you’ll get the ATAR required, course preferences should be listed in the order you’d most like them to be considered, not the order in which you think you’ll get in to them. Enter the course that you’d most like to study first, followed by the course you’d next prefer to study, and so on.

Consider the finer details to help you prioritise

When you’re interested in lots of courses, it can be tricky to prioritise them. To help you decide, you might like to dig a bit deeper into what each course involves – does the course offer specialisations you like the sound of? Can you undertake internships, work experience or overseas study opportunities as part of the course? What facilities do students have access to?

Remember this is your life

Remember this is your life

Choose courses you like the sound of and that lead to careers you are interested in, not necessarily those that other people may think you should study. It is a great idea to discuss your options with friends and family but ultimately the courses and universities you choose to apply for should be your decision.

Have a back-up plan

Even if you have your heart set on one particular course, you should list as many courses as you can on your preference list including similar degrees with more flexible entry criteria, such as a lower ATAR. Listing these courses further down your list will give you pathway options in case you don’t get your top preference.

You might like to consider a different campus – if a uni offers a course at multiple campuses, the ATAR will likely vary from campus to campus based on demand, even though the course is the same.

Take your time and be thorough

When filling in your preference list, allocate enough time so you can review your application and ensure you’ve included all the documentation you need. Double check your personal details, as well as the courses you have selected, particularly course codes – note that the same course at different campuses of the same university will usually have a different course code.

Know that you can change your mind

Don’t worry if you’re not 100% sure when you initially choose your course preferences – you will be able to change your preferences as many times as you like during the change of preference period later in the year. But remember, it’s never too early to get started on your research.

Ready to shape your future? Get a head start on course selection by using Deakin’s ATAR calculator.