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How to approach the change of preference period

How to approach the change of preference period

With the arrival of Year 12 results comes the start of the change of preference period, which gives students the opportunity to adjust their course preferences before offers are made.

If you’re considering making a few changes to your preference list, rest assured that you’re not alone. Here, we run through some of the most common reasons for changing course preferences and list things to look out for during the process.

Reasons for changing course preferences

Although it may certainly feel like it at the time, especially with the stress of a deadline, you are not locked into your course preferences the minute you hit the ‘submit’ button.

There are two main reasons why students change their preferences:

  • You change your mind: Even if you selected your dream course as your first preference, it’s possible that you’ve changed your mind since the submission deadline. This could be because your choices no longer interest you or that you’ve simply found another course that you prefer (one that provides opportunities for work-integrated learning or offers elective choices more suited to your interests, for example). You might also find that, with exams on the horizon, you chose your preferences too quickly and didn’t do the required research, or perhaps that you ordered your preferences incorrectly by accident.

  • You received a different score to what you expected: While you may have estimated the score you were likely to receive, it’s almost impossible to predict your actual score due to other factors that come into play (the achievement of your overall cohort, for instance). This means that many students receive a mark that they weren’t expecting (whether it is higher or lower than what they had hoped for), which sees some changing their preferences to accommodate their actual score (to courses with a lower cut-off if their score was lower than expected, for example).

Things to look out for

As you enter the change of preference period, there are a few things to look out for:

  • Ensure that you consider your options carefully: If you decide to submit changes, be sure to seek out information about your alternatives first. There’s no use making changes if you haven’t done the necessary research, so make sure any courses you are adding (or moving higher on your list of preferences) meet all your requirements and that you are eligible for entry.

  • Be wary of changing your preferences for the sake of it: If you’re happy with the courses you selected, there is no need to change your preferences. For example, if you receive an unexpectedly high score, you shouldn’t change your first preference to a course with a high cut-off (law, for example) just because you can. The most important thing is to pick a course that matches your interests, strengths and ambitions.

  • Look out for change of preference information sessions: Many institutions run special ‘change of preference’ or ‘course information’ sessions shortly after the release of results. These give you the chance to find out more information if you are considering adding a course or institution you hadn’t previously looked into, need to reconsider your options if you haven’t met the required cut-off or prerequisites, have any doubts about your preferences, or simply have questions about a course (about subjects on offer, student exchange or the availability of online study, for example). Remember, it’s best to ask these questions early on (before receiving an offer) rather than beginning a course and realising it’s nothing like you expected.

  • Research potential pathways: If you find that after results are released you don’t meet the entry requirements for your dream course, you should research any pathways that will allow you gain entry before giving up. The best way to do this is to have a chat to advisers at your preferred institution. They will be able to recommend an appropriate pathway plan that you can undertake, such as entering via a VET pathway or foundation course.

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