You've got your ATAR – now what?

If you've just finished Year 12, congratulations!

After receiving your ATAR, whether you’re celebrating or commiserating, you should be proud of your efforts – we all know Year 12 is a tough year and getting through it is an achievement.

For many of you the stress might not be over, as you navigate changing your preferences and waiting for a university offer. But don’t stress – help is at hand.

There are a few key points you need to get across first – the VTAC offers process has changed this year, so it’s good to be across this and how it might affect you.

There’s a new December round of university offers, for Victorian and Queensland residents applying through VTAC – on Wednesday 18 December at 2pm. Most Victorian universities, including Deakin, are participating, but not all courses. VTAC has a handy fact sheet, but you should also check directly with individual universities. All of Deakin’s courses will be participating in the December round. There will be two more rounds of university offers in January and February (see dates below).

This December offers round means the first Change of Preference period is only two and a half days – so while there is lots of help out there, you need to move quickly.

Key dates

  • ATAR release: 7am Thursday 12 December
  • Change of Preference closes: 4pm Saturday 14 December
  • December course offers ( for VIC and QLD residents only): 2pm Wednesday 18 December
  • Change of Preference re-opens: 4pm Wednesday 18 December–4pm Friday 20 December
  • Change of Preference open (one day only): 10am–4pm Thursday 2 January
  • January course offers: 2pm Wednesday 15 January
  • Change of Preference open: 10am Thursday 16 January–4pm Friday 24 January
  • February course offers: 2pm Monday 3 February

So with only two and a half days to decide your future, what’s the best way to tackle Change of Preference? We spoke to three members of Deakin’s Student Recruitment team about the three most common scenarios faced by Year 12 students after they get their ATAR.

What to do if your ATAR is higher than you expected

Firstly, congratulations and take some time to be proud of your efforts.

While this is a great position to be in, the first instinct you might have when you do better than expected is to rush in and change your university course preferences – to courses with higher ATARs.

But Deakin Student Recruitment Coordinator Luke Ridgwell has some sound advice.

‘Your ATAR score is not a gift certificate, you don’t have to spend it!’

Ridgwell advises that it is important to keep your dream course at the top of your course preference list.

‘You’ve done a lot of research to this point. You’ve found the one that’s for you,’ he says.

Instead Ridgwell suggests looking at scholarships and extra-curricular opportunities.

‘Look at the extra things associated with your course, now that you have a higher ATAR. Keep with your dream course, but now’s the time to look at the extra opportunities as well.’

What to do if your ATAR is what you expected

Again, this is a great position to be in. You have done well and should be proud of your efforts.

If you are happy with your list of course preferences, then it’s time to sit tight and wait for university offers – either on 18 December, 15 January, or 3 February.

However there is one thing to consider: have you listed the course you most want to do as your first preference?

Deakin’s Student Recruitment Manager Jenny Rowell’s advice is always to list your course preferences if order of what you most want to study, not what you think you will get into. So only change your preferences if you haven’t got the course you most want to do at the top of your list.

What if you have changed your mind since submitting your course preferences? That’s OK – use the Change of Preference period to change the order of your courses or add or delete courses.

Rowell says you can definitely add new courses to your preference list.

‘But my best piece of advice is to make sure you check prerequisites and extra requirements for any new courses that you want to include on your list. The other thing to remember is that each institute has got different prerequisites and different extra requirements, so make sure you do your research,’ she says.

What to do if your ATAR is not as high as you expected

Firstly, don’t panic. Of course it’s disappointing to not do as well as you expected. It’s also stressful if you think you might miss out on your preferred university course. But the important thing to remember – there is lots of help at hand and many paths to university, so reach out for help to find the path that’s right for you.

Deakin Student Recruitment Coordinator Andrew Ware’s advice is to still keep the course that you’re most wanting to do at the top of your preference list. ‘Because you’re obviously passionate about that course and that’s the course you most want to do,’ he says.

‘You never know exactly what’s going to happen with the minimum selection rank when it comes to the ATARs year on year. You might not have got the ATAR that you were looking for, but it still might be enough for this year’s intake.’

However, if you really think your ATAR will not be good enough to get into your dream course – don’t give up hope. It’s important to remember that an ATAR is just one way to get into a university course, and there are often many alternative entry pathways.

Now you’ve got your ATAR, this is the time to be realistic about your options, says Luke Ridgwell. Use the Change of Preference period to look at suitable pathways and amend your preferences accordingly.

Common pathways

  • Same course, different campus: At Deakin, sometimes the same course is offered at a different campus with a lower ATAR requirement, so check the course page for details.
  • Different course, similar subjects: At Deakin, some courses share similar subjects, and after studying for a year it may be possible to transfer between them. Get in touch to let Deakin’s course advisers give you guidance on this option.
  • Through Deakin College or TAFE: A TAFE qualification might offer the credit points you need to get into a course, and Deakin has guaranteed TAFE entry pathways. Similarly, studying a year at Deakin College offers fast-tracked, guaranteed pathways into second year of some Deakin courses.

‘So you need to look at what’s the best way to get back into your dream course, down the track, through a pathway option,’ Luke says.

Getting help

Receiving your ATAR, changing your preferences and waiting for a university offer – it can all be pretty stressful. But remember you’re not alone and there’s lots of support available.

See how Deakin can help you – by phone, through live chat or at events.

You can also get help and advice from your school’s career practitioner. They are well versed on the VTAC process, how to change your preferences and pathway options.

It’s also good to get advice from people you know who are studying at university or have just graduated – they probably know just what you are going through.

If you’re considering the right path for you, the best thing to do is to get in touch with us at Deakin. Give us a call on 1800 693 888 or live chat with us online.

Learn more about changing your uni preferences and accepting your offer