You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers. Here’s some help with that pending VTAC preferences list.

Some days, simply deciding what to wear can be overwhelming. So, deciding what and where to study can feel like an insurmountable mountain of choice. But choice is a gift. And mountains are beautiful. So, a mountain of choice is a beautiful gift, right? Riiiiiight.

To make deciding what and where to study that little bit easier, we went straight to the source: students who’ve been through exactly what you’re going through right now. Stephen is studying a Bachelor of Aviation/ Bachelor of Business at Swinburne. He’s also a street photographer, baker, and bedroom DJ (the latter is thanks to lockdown). 

Sohani is studying a Bachelor of Business (Professional) at Swinburne – with a major in marketing. She’s a mental health advocate and a photographer, too.

Here’s their advice on how to make sure your VTAC preference list is on point.

1. Will this be fun? And will it be safe?

Fun? Safe? Both? Neither? You decide.

Ok, so we know that’s technically two questions. But Stephen says this is really about balancing your passion with security, which might seem contrary to the whole passion or nothing mentality. “Consider something that you have a passion for, that you know will be enjoyable, but also that’s safe – both financially and personally."

“Consider something that you have a passion for, that you know will be enjoyable, but also that’s safe – both financially and personally."

After speaking with his careers adviser in Year 12, Stephen felt rudderless.

“My career adviser raised the cyclical dynamics of the aviation industry with me. They said pilots are at greater risk of layoffs or redundancy due to macro trends that cause economic downturn,” he says. “I was irritated after this conversation because it left me with questions about my career choice. But after the irritation passed, I was glad I was challenged. The COVID-19 pandemic showed me that my choice to study a double degree will afford me both fun and security.”

2. How can I get real-life experience from my studies?

Learning on the job. Nothing beats it. But what if you could learn on the job while you’re studying?

This one tops Sohani’s list of most important questions to ask yourself when selecting your VTAC preferences. “Studying a degree versus working in the industry is not the same! At Swinburne, you can do both. Being on placements, I get to apply the theory learned in my course to real-life scenarios in the workplace. I get the chance to test out my skills and knowledge as well as pinpoint areas of weakness that I need to invest more time in,” says Sohani. 

“Getting real-industry experience as part of your studies gives you a competitive advantage at such an early stage of your career, putting you that one step further in where you want to go.”

“Getting real-industry experience as part of your studies gives you a competitive advantage at such an early stage of your career, putting you that one step further in where you want to go.”

3. Is there flexibility in choosing your own timetable?

Swinburne’s courses are as flexible as this.

Sohani has more on her plate than a ravenous guest at a hotel breakfast buffet. So, flexibility is key for her.

“Being a busy person who works part-time, volunteers, values family and friend time, values ‘me-time’ and invests time in my side hustle, flexibility becomes the make or break to surviving,” she says. “In having a say in preferred times and days I want to study, I can comfortably move around my other priorities without having to drop a commitment.”

4. What’s the commute like? 

How not to commute.

Sohani and Stephen both spout the virtues of a convenient commute. “Considering the location of the university is important,” says Sohani. “For in-person lectures and classes, you need to be committed to attending all of them if you want to get the most out of your degree. If the commute is too long and inconvenient, then this is something to consider.” 

“The campus, public transport, cafés, social venues and living in student residences all give me the warm fuzzies,” says Stephen. He finds that having everything so well-connected means there are more incidental encounters. “I often bump into people I study with. We chat, invite each other to go out, have a coffee or eat in the nearby cafés. It’s great to catch up with my friends, and it helps clear my mind for the next uni session.”

5. Can I change my studies when I'm already in deep?

Things change. And that’s completely ok.

“Sometimes, what you thought you wanted to study might not be what you want to continue with,” says Stephen. “Sometimes, the thought of not choosing the perfect course scares Year 12 students. I can relate because that’s exactly how I felt when I was doing my preferences. So, my advice would be – do not fret. Just because you’ve chosen your preferences, it doesn’t mean you’re forced to stick with it.” 

Stephen has witnessed many friends stay at Swinburne but switch to other courses thanks to the extreme flexibility on offer at Swinburne (not every uni lets you change your major, or degree, mid-way through). So, he knows just how easy and commonplace changing your mind is. “Your professional purpose will change over time. It’s never too late to change your studies to be better aligned in satisfying your purpose.”

6. What’s the campus vibe? (AKA can I see myself being BFFs with these people?) 

You want a uni where you can be your (best) self and have this exact reaction – at least once.

University life is nothing like Year 12 (amen to that). You get to be surrounded by like-minded people, drive your own agenda and wear all the piercings (if that’s what you’re into). But that lack of structure can feel a little frightening. That’s where a strong sense of community and general good folk feels are so important. You want to be surrounded by people who are kind, and smart, and funny and Just Get You.  “Friendly banter, laughter, support and a strong sense of belonging are all part of Swinburne’s DNA,” says Sohani. “It’s comforting to hear about other students’ stories, struggles, and passions.” 

Stephen seconds Sohani’s take on the welcoming Swinburne community. “The friends I’ve made helped me adapt to the university lifestyle and living out of home for the first time.”

Upcoming or past events

  • 2024 Study Expo

    Browse Swinburne courses, study areas, and our Hawthorn campus at your own pace, and find out about starting in Semester 1.

    Thu 16 November
    4:30 PM to 6:00 PM
    Swinburne Hawthorn campus, AMDC building, Level 3
  • 2024 Postgrad Study Q&A

    Hear about our key postgrad courses, meet Swinburne academics, get your questions answered, and find out about starting in Semester 1.

    Tue 14 November
    4:30 PM to 6:00 PM
    Online (Microsoft Teams)
  • Course Info
    • Innovation
    • Technology
    • Engagement
    • Swinburne Advantage

    Swinburne 2022 Change of Preference Expo

    Join us at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus to take a tour, get advice personalised to you and your study goals, and update your VTAC preferences on the day (and with confidence).

    Tue 13 December
    10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
    Hawthorn Campus
    Register now (Swinburne 2022 Change of Preference Expo)

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