This year, some 70,000 New South Wales Year 12 students sat for the Higher School Certificate. Many of these students will have university aspirations and of those who do apply, most will receive an offer. The offer may not be to their highest preference, although Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) statistics indicate that 70% of those who apply will receive an offer to one of their top three preferences.
Understanding the options
Young people need to understand however, that, depending on what they want to do, university is just one way to achieve their career goal.
It is not necessarily the way, and certainly not the only way or their only option. It is unfortunate therefore, that many who should know better, both in the media and in schools, all too often peddle the line that university is the only way.
It is not.
Even before any consideration is given to course selection, young people need to understand and address the first and the most important career question. It is this:
What do I want to do?
The career question is the most important question for this reason: there is not a lot of point in choosing a university course – or any other course for that matter – unless the course is going to take you in the career direction you want to go. There are many ways to help establish career direction and career clarity.
In this article, I will concentrate on those with university aspirations and I need to make the assumption that in choosing a course, which is the second important career decision, they have already answered the career question above.
I will focus on those with other career hopes and desires at the next opportunity.
Understanding the processes
By now, the formal examinations will be over. It won’t be long until students start looking forward expectantly to receiving their results – and their university offers soon afterwards.
If they have not already applied to university, it is not too late to do so. There are staggered closing dates reflecting the staggered dates of the offer rounds. For example, most current Year 12 applicants will receive an offer in either December Round 2, or January Round 1. The application closing date for consideration for these offer rounds is Monday, 20th November and Friday, 1st December respectively.
December Round 2 offers will be released on Monday, 21st December and January Round 1 offers released on Friday, 12th January. In any given offer round, an applicant will receive one offer only, but it is possible to receive a second and even a third offer in later offer rounds.
If you get an offer, accept it
One strong piece of advice I would give to a current applicant is this: if you receive an offer, accept it, even if it is to one of your lower preferences. You may not receive a later offer and if you do not accept the offer you have been made, it will lapse. You could end up with nothing at all! If you do receive a later offer, accept that also. UAC will make offers to higher order preferences only in circumstances where an earlier offer has been made. You will then be in a position to choose.
I am often asked about how one should order their preferences. Again, the best piece of advice is to preference your courses NOT in descending ATAR order, but in the order in which you would like to be considered for an offer to that course.
So regardless of the ATAR, your first preference should be the course in the institution you most want. Your second preference should be the course in the institution you most want, in the event you don’t receive an offer to your first preference – and so on down to a maximum of five preferences. Preferences four and five should reflect your back up/fall back position.
It's not the end of the world
There are also those times when, having done their best, young people find that they have missed out on an offer to their “dream course” – or any course at all. For some, this can feel quite devastating. They need to be reassured that it’s not the end of the world. There is always a way.
Having worked as a Careers Adviser for more than twenty years, I can say with certainty that the path less taken can often be the best path. UTS for example, will tell you that they love students who come to them having completed a TAFE diploma and use this as a pathway to the university course they want. This example is just one amongst many, many options.
I wish all those reading this – students, parents, caring others – the very best of good luck as you look with confidence to the future.
Contact Gordon Doyle
Phone: 0412 540 154