While exams might be done, it can feel like the toughest part of Year 12 is just beginning – and no, it’s not getting your bond back from Schoolies.

Trying to navigate a minefield of misinformation as you choose your university preferences can sometimes feel harder than all the work you put in to get to this point. 

But fear not. With the help of current Swinburne students Arlo and Bianca-Jaye, we’ve put together the ultimate myth-busting guide to life beyond high school. 

Lie #1: you are your ATAR

The only thing discussed more than ATARs this year is Taylor Swift’s relationship status, so it’s easy to see why people think they’re the be all and end all. But Bianca-Jaye, who is completing a Bachelor of Psychological Sciences, insists that’s not the case.

‘Your ATAR does not define you. What you're capable of doesn't necessarily come out in tests or exams. Some scores are great and some scores can be disappointing but there are ways to navigate any ATAR.’

And she knows this from first-hand experience.

‘I was one of those kids where my score didn't reflect what I was hoping for. If I could go back, I would probably put less stress on myself and realise there are always options.’

One of these options led Bianca to Swinburne, and she’s been kicking goals ever since. In the first two years of her degree, she developed an award-winning audio device to help children with autism.

Bianca-Jaye inside Swinburne's Innovation Studio.
‘I was one of those kids where my score didn't reflect what I was hoping for. If I could go back, I would probably put less stress on myself and realise there are always options.’

Lie #2: you’ll never make friends (and probably die alone)

At school, you knew everyone. But at university, the only person you know is your mum’s friend’s kid who you promised to text. And that’s how you think it will be forever. Just you and Fregley, forced to spend four years in each other’s company.

However, Arlo, an Engineering and Computer Science student, reveals that wasn’t their experience.  

‘I knew Swinburne was a small campus but I was surprised at how friendly people were, which sounds weird, but I was amazed at how easy it was to meet people, how willing people were to just come up and talk to you.’ 

Bianca-Jaye, a proud Gunditjmara woman, was also able to find community easily. 

‘I'm heavily involved with the Moondani Toombadool Centre at Swinburne. Through them I’ve been able to go to two national Indigenous Games and with their support and help I've never felt alone.’

Change of Preference Expo / Tuesday 12 December 

Come along to Change of Preference Expo to get all the info you need on courses, access one-on-one support to update your VTAC preferences, and take a tour of the Hawthorn campus.

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Lie #3: you’re just a number

With thousands of other faceless students to worry about, surely you’re bound to get lost in the system? Not according to Arlo. 

‘When I was struggling, when a lot of my friends were struggling, we were able to just talk with our tutors and they were able to help us figure out the best way to get through our courses.’ 

It’s an experience that Bianca-Jaye shares as well.

‘People know your name, your lecturers know your name, they know what you want from your degree and will help you achieve that.’ 

Arlo relaxes inside The Junction on Swinburne's Hawthorn campus.
‘I was amazed at how easy it was to meet people, how willing people were to just come up and talk to you.’ 

Lie #4: your preference is for life

Just like that ‘temporary’ tattoo you got in Bali that’s showing no signs of fading, it’s easy to think whatever you choose is permanent. However, Arlo found that wasn’t so.  

‘If you go into something and you're not really sure it's right for you, it’s very easy to change. You don't really need to worry about your ATAR once you're in, you can move around, which was great.’ 

As did Bianca-Jaye, who also changed courses post-pandemic.

‘All the credit points I received online for the units I completed, I was actually able to put that into a minor. Swinburne made it so easy for me to transition over.’  

Over the next few months you’ll continue be inundated by (often unsolicited) advice about your educational future but we’ll leave the last word to Bianca-Jaye.

‘Whether you know what you want to do straight away or it takes you some time, Swinburne will always be here.’

Bianca-Jaye at the entrance to Swinburne's Design Factory.
  • Course Info

    Webinar | What Now? Your Change of Preference Gameplan

    Whether you did better than expected, want to know more about your course options, or just want some insider VTAC advice, this webinar is designed to help you navigate Change of Preference with confidence.

    Mon 11 December
    7:00 PM to 7:45 PM
    Online via Microsoft Teams
    Free
  • Course Info

    Change of Preference Expo 2023

    Come along to Change of Preference Expo to get all the info you need on courses, access one-on-one support to update your VTAC preferences, and take a tour of the Hawthorn campus.

    Tue 12 December
    10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
    Advanced Technologies Centre (ATC), Hawthorn campus
    Free

Keep on exploring

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    5 must-know Change of Preference tricks to maximise your VTAC offers

    Want the inside scoop on Change of Preference? Here’s your guide to getting more offers and options with every offer round.

  • ATAR Calculator

    Ready to find your perfect course? Our ATAR Calculator matches your predicted or actual ATAR with a list of Swinburne courses available in your study area of interest. 

  • Change of Preference

    Want to get more from your ATAR? Use our resources to find the best way to organise your VTAC preferences for every offer round. Plus, discover different ways to get into your dream degree with our pathway planner.

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    Work Integrated Learning

    Swinburne guarantees real industry experience in all our bachelor degrees in the form of placements, internships or industry-linked projects.