How to make the most of your uni application

Applying to study a course at Charles Sturt University (CSU) is the first step to achieving your career goals. And whether you’re applying through UAC or VTAC, you want to maximise your chances of getting into your dream degree. But how do you make sure your application is as good as it can possibly be? Here are our tips for nailing your uni application.

Start planning your uni application early

It’s a good idea to start looking at potential courses as soon as possible. Undergraduate courses are usually published at the start of August, and you can start looking at your options from then.

This lets you not only see the course structure and subjects covered in certain degrees – to see if they fit with your interests – but also to check if a course has an early application deadline (like CSU’s Bachelor of Veterinary Biology / Bachelor of Veterinary Science, which has an early deadline) or has additional admission criteria you will need to meet. For instance, some communication and creative industries degrees require you to compile and submit a portfolio or attend an audition.

Be strategic with your preferences

When you apply via UAC or VTAC, you can list a number of courses in order of preference. You’ll then be considered for acceptance to these courses in the order of your list. That is, your first choice will assess your application and, if you don’t meet the ATAR required or other selection criteria, your application goes to your second preference for consideration.

So it makes sense to put your number one course at, yes, number one on your preference list. But you can be strategic in your next preference if that number one course is your ideal and it has quite tough admission requirements, such as a high ATAR.

Here’s an example. You really want to study the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary) at CSU, but you’re not sure you’re going to hit the ATAR needed for it. You could then put the Bachelor of Educational Studies as your second course because it has lower entry requirements and provides an admission pathway to the early childhood degree. You would study the Bachelor of Educational Studies for a year and then, if you get good grades, transfer to the second degree (and get credit for the subjects you’ve already studied).

And remember that once you’ve got your ATAR in December, you will be able to change your preferences. So, if you’ve done better than you expected, you can move a course you’ve now got the ATAR for to number one.

Get a grip on offer rounds

You’ll hear a lot about offer rounds whenever you get stuck into application stuff. But what are they exactly, and what do you need to know about them?

Basically, UAC and VTAC have a number of rounds during which universities can make offers to students. ‘Hang on,’ you might say. ‘I haven’t even done my HSC yet!’ And you’d be right.

There’s what is referred to as a ‘main round’, and this is when most offers of a place at uni are made to Year 12 students. This round is in December/January after the HSC results and ATARs are available.

However, you could get an offer in one of the rounds before the main round. These offers are often made based on criteria other than the ATAR, or as part of the UAC Schools Recommendation Schemes (SRS) and VTAC early offer round.

There are also offer rounds that come after the main round. These can be for courses with places available after all main round offers have been made or for courses that start in Session 2.

Don’t forget adjustment factors

You can increase your likelihood of getting into the course you want if you’re eligible and apply for adjustment factors. These are factors that individual universities may decide should be considered in addition to an ATAR score.

The main adjustment factors that can be applied are:

  • for academic performance in your Year 12 subjects
  • for going to school in a regional area
  • if your studies have been negatively affected by things like illness or financial hardship.

It’s important to remember that these adjustments don’t change your ATAR score – they alter your selection rank for a particular course. If you receive, say, a regional location adjustment, your selection rank is increased by five points, even though your ATAR stays the same. It can mean that you could get into a course even if your ATAR turns out to be below the lowest published selection rank.

With UAC, for academic performance and hardship adjustments you’ll need to provide certain documents to the university aside from your uni application. However, the regional location adjustment is applied automatically if you qualify. With VTAC, you’ll need to fill out an application for each factor you want to apply for.

Steps to success

These tips should give you a helping hand with your uni application. And it’s a good idea to start thinking about your application as early as possible. That way, you’ll maximise your chances of getting a place in the course you want. So when you’ve found the right course for you, start taking your steps to study success.