So you’re meant to be figuring out what to do with your life AND a preferencing system that seems harder to wrap your head around than trigonometry. As if you didn’t already have enough ‘it’s complicated’ stuff in your life right now!

To make things that little bit less complicated, here’s a handy list of questions you might want to ask about preferences but haven’t (or have, but it’s still fuzzy). 

1. How many preferences do I get?

First up, let’s simplify the lingo. Your preferences are, essentially, your wish list. So let’s just call it that. Preferences = wish list. You’ve got eight spots on your wish list. All you have to do is number them from one through to eight in order of the courses you most want to do. (Hint: think about the type of place you want to study at too – and not just the location. You want somewhere that’ll help you be the best version of you.)  

2. Wait a sec, I’m meant to know what to put on my list before I even get my ATAR? That’s like trying to pack for a mystery trip when I don’t know whether I’m headed for sunshine or snow.

Yep, it might feel like putting the cart before the horse. It’s weird. We know. So we’re here to help you make sense of it. We’ve (very thoughtfully) made you this handy ATAR calculator to let you see what Swinburne courses you could do based on the score you might get. (We’re nice like that.)

Yep, you too can soon be carefree like Alivia. She did an internship at a top PR firm as part of her Bachelor of Media and Communication/Bachelor of Business. 

3. So should I play it safe and put in the courses I think I’ll get into based on my estimate?

The easy answer – no. Because do you really want to do a course you’re not that into? Make your wish list based on what you actually want to do. And just be sure to include pathway options, too. What are pathways? They’re things like certificates and diplomas and they can lead to a degree. Preferencing them can reduce your risk of not getting any offers and, at the same time, put you closer to your dream course. Swinburne is known as a ‘dual sector uni’, which basically means that, as well as degrees, we offer certificates and diplomas – or pathways. One really important one is UniLink, which is equivalent to the first year of your degree, except with small classes and more support. When you’re done, you could head straight into the second year of your degree. If you need to get your maths up to speed for the course you want, say hi to Mathslink Further or Mathslink Methods.

The tech-rich future is waiting

Need help skilling up for it? Apply to the uni that knows tech.

4. I’m planning on skim-reading the entry requirements and going off what the guaranteed or minimum ATAR entrance scores are. That cool?  

No it’s not cool. DO NOT SKIM READ THE ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS!!! Or you might find yourself in hot water. Because, there are some hard line, non-negotiables (like minimum study scores for maths or English) when it comes to getting into certain courses. If you don’t meet the prerequisites, your application won’t be considered. Although, there are some cases where your score can be boosted if you qualify for bonus points, officially known as the Special Entry Access Scheme (SEAS). SEAS lets us take any short or long term disadvantages into account when we look at your application and potentially award extra points to your ATAR. 

Get all the good feels when you submit a preference list you’re happy with, like Joey. He kicked things off with a dual diploma and is planning on a teaching degree next.

5. I applied for the Early Entry Program but didn’t get a conditional offer. Now what?

To start, don’t stress. And yes, you should still keep the Early Entry Program in your preferences. Here’s why. Just because you didn’t get a conditional offer doesn’t mean your application ‘sucked’. We had a heap of applicants and only a limited number of conditional offers. However, once ATARs are released, you’ll find that many students will receive offers via standard entry (in other words, they meet the ATAR requirement for their course … and psst, maybe you will too!). That means we can free up places for students who didn’t get a conditional offer. In short, keeping the Early Entry Program in your preferences means you’ll be cleverly covering Plan A - Z.

6. Help! Tbh, I still don’t really get how the whole VTAC process works.

Try thinking of VTAC as a match-maker of sorts. (Like Tinder, except way less gross.)

Let’s just say they’re a pretty brash match-maker, because they let every suitor know you’re interested – AT THE SAME TIME. Yep, they’ll notify all of the eight courses on your list at once, and tell them you’d like to strike up a relationship with them.

As for your potential partners? They’re not talking to one another. They don’t know who else is interested in you. So if they want you, they’ll say yes. That means, all of the eight courses on your wish list might offer you a place – BUT YOU’LL NEVER KNOW!!! Because VTAC won’t tell you. They’ll only make you ONE OFFER PER ROUND and it will be the highest on your list that says yes.

Put the courses (and the place) you love first and you won’t be left wondering ‘what if?’

7. Why wouldn’t VTAC tell me about my other offers? That’s just mean.

So that there’s structure and order to the system. That’s why it’s so important you put down what you love first. Because if you play it safe (by putting an average course you think you’ll get into as your number one) you might just be made an offer to do that uninspiring course. Er, ya-ay??!

And guess what? Your dreamboat of a course (the one you put at number three to ‘play it safe’) has also offered you a spot. But you’ll only ever see your highest preference who says yes.

Yep, playing it ‘safe’ might just mean you miss out on your perfect match. So save yourself from potential heartbreak and preference your true loves up the top.  

8. How many times can I change my wish list?

You don’t need to worry about this right now. But you can basically change it as often as you like during application and change of preference periods (between offer rounds). Always check the selection criteria. No skim-reading permitted here. For more info, head to VTAC.

So there you have it, 8 answers about your preferences. Make that wish list and go hard after what you love. It’s your life, after all.

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