Feeling stressed out and confused about how to make your uni preference list?

Here are four quick questions you can ask yourself to make sure you stay true to you when picking your courses.

1. What do I want to be when I grow up?

Yes, it’s a question that’s still as relevant today as it was back in Grade 1! But now the grown up bit is within reach.

So who do you want to become in the next ten years? A high-flying lawyer ruling the corporate world? A celebrity photographer on the red carpets of LA? A midwife welcoming the newest tiny humans? A biomedical researcher who finds the cure for Alzheimer’s disease? A best-selling author on a world book tour?

Brainstorm! Get as crazy as you like and really let yourself dream – no one else has to read what you write! But having an exciting career you really want to achieve visualised in your mind is the first step to picking the course that’s right for you.

Do you see yourself as a midwife? Here are some of VU’s midwifery students in the simulated learning lab.

2. What kinds of courses will take me there?

Now you have a terrific career goal in mind, it’s time to do some research into how people with a similar job got there. The world is full of amazing success stories of people who started out just like you (a high school student full of doubts and dreams) and are on the way to achieving their goals. So will you.

If you know anyone in a similar role through friends or family, ask them for advice on what and where they studied. Talk to your school careers practitioner. Or go online and do some searching for ‘how to become a …’. Head to university websites and browse courses that match your area of interest. Start making a longlist of courses.

Your course list should include courses that reflect your career aspirations and study areas of interest. Be sure to review the admission criteria for the courses that interest you. These can include prerequisite subject and study score requirements, as well as ATAR requirements.

The final course list you submit to VTAC will include a maximum of eight courses in the following order:

  • Courses 1-3: Those you most want to study and meet the admission criteria for.
  • Courses 4-6: Pathway courses that will move you closer to your ultimate career goals.
  • Courses 7-8: Preparation courses.

Note: Some TAFE courses are not applied for via VTAC, so you’ll need to apply directly to the institution.

Different kinds of jobs need different kinds of training. Here are VU’s law students presenting their case in a simulated court setting.

3. Which uni do I want to study at?

Now you know what kinds of courses you should look for, you need to decide which uni to apply to.

Some courses will only be offered at certain universities, others offered at many. Admission criteria can also be different for each university. For example, ATAR is no longer a consideration for many VU degrees.

You’ll find that different universities appeal to you for different reasons. These may be related to facilities and location, special entry schemes available, student accommodation or even different ways of teaching such as the VU Block Model.

Through the process of matching your desired courses against the universities you’d like to attend and their admission criteria, you will find you have done most of the work towards creating your shorter preference list of eight courses.

Hint: Read more tips on picking the right uni for you and find out why choosing a uni close to home can make you more successful.

Want to work in sport? Read how Brooke Muscat found a job with the Western Bulldogs FC through VU’s industry placements.

4. What will I do if I don’t get into my first preferences?

Trick question! You know that dream career you visualised with the first question? Well it is always in reach, even if it might take you a little longer to reach it with a slightly more interesting journey. Make sure your course preference list includes pathway options so that if you’re not offered your first preference, you may be able to enter a course that provides guaranteed entry to your goal course.

For example at VU, many of our TAFE diploma qualifications offer guaranteed entry and sometimes study credits towards degrees in a related field.

So dream big and aim high – as the saying goes, shoot for the moon, and even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars. Want some inspiration? Read about five people whose ATAR was no obstacle and VU graduate Rhian Stavely who went from disappointing VCE results to an incredible international career in medical research!

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