The university offer period leaves some students jumping for joy, knowing they’ve gotten into their dream course. But if you didn’t get into your first preference or need help sorting through your options, read on as we work through some common scenarios and the steps you can take to get into your course.
You didn’t get into your first preference
After working hard in high school and setting your sights on your first preference, it can feel like a huge setback if you don’t get in. But before you panic, keep in mind that you are still eligible to receive an offer in the second round (check the TAC websites for key dates). Some universities specifically allocate extra spots for the second round, and new spots also open up due to first-round students rejecting or deferring their places. There’s no way to tell if you’ll receive an offer, but looking at the ATAR/OP cut-off score for the first round can give you an indication of your chances. See School leaver entry requirements for more information about cut-offs. If you’re very close to the cut-off and met other course requirements such as subject prerequisites, you may be eligible for entry — contact universities to discuss your options, as not all courses participate in the second round.
You’re not sure if you want to accept your offer
If you got an offer that isn’t your first preference, you might be wondering if you should still accept it. Beyond hoping for an offer in the second round, our tip is to begin researching the course to see what it’s like and if it can act as a pathway into your first preference. The arts course you got into could be the perfect pathway into law, while an undergraduate health science degree might be just what you need to get into graduate entry medicine. Bear in mind that accepting an offer into a lower preference is a good safeguard even if you’re not too sure about it at this stage. If you’re considering rejecting your offer, make sure that you’re certain about not wanting to study the course. Go to the university’s website, read about the course and see if you can attend an information session. Our University ratings are also very helpful and allow you to research universities based on factors such as teaching quality and how graduates fare in the job market. If you’ve done your research and still want to reject your offer, have a quick chat to a course or career adviser to sort through your options.
You didn’t get an offer at all
Like students who didn’t get into their first preference, you are still eligible for an offer in the second round. Individual universities may have extra rounds too, so don’t lose hope just yet. Your next step should be to investigate pathways, which might include starting out in a foundation or bridging course, or heading into the VET sector to complete a lower-level qualification with the intention of working your way up the qualifications ladder into a bachelor degree. See Pathways into your course for more information about these options. You might also consider applying for a degree at a more accessible provider. Many private colleges and TAFE institutes offer bachelor degrees, often with less rigid entry requirements than universities. Some of these institutions continue to take applications until the start of the semester. See individual institution website for details.
You want to apply for a different course
The deadlines for changing preferences vary between the states, so you may still be able to re-jig some of your preferences. Even if you can't, don’t panic if you’re reconsidering your applications. You may not have had enough time to research your preferences amidst coursework and exams, or could have just had a change of heart. You still have options up your sleeve, including submitting a direct application to an institution (check websites and attend information sessions for more information) or investigating the options available through the Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC). Victorian students, for example, can submit a negotiated offer through VTAC. This allows you to apply for a course that wasn’t on your preference list or one that is lower than the course in which they’ve been offered a place.
Visit institution websites for details of information sessions. You may even be able to book a session with a course or career adviser, who will be able to help you determine your next steps. You can also find information on your state or territory’s TAC website, listed below.
- ACT/NSW — Universities Admissions Centre (UAC)
- QLD — Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC)
- SA — South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC)
- VIC — Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC)
- WA — Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC)