A parent guide to university offers

With ATARs and OPs released in December, the new year signals the arrival of university offers. If your child is one of the thousands of students awaiting a tertiary place, keep reading as we work through some of the concerns you might have.  

Your child didn’t get into their first preference. What now?

Do not despair if your child didn’t receive an offer for their first preference. Although this can be disheartening, it’s important to keep in mind that the first offer round is not their only chance for university entry. In fact, there are multiple offer rounds in each state and territory, which means that they may still be eligible for a place. Some universities reserve extra spots for these additional rounds, and new places also open up when students who’ve been granted a place choose to defer or reject their offer.

Another point to remember is that accepting a place in a lower preference in the first round does not affect eligibility for future offers. Once offers are released, the cut-off score or minimum OP/selection rank for first round entry will give your child an indication of their chances in the second round. If the ATAR or OP they received is very close to the first round cut-off, it is possible that they will receive an offer. Of course, there are no guarantees. Speaking to course advisers at institutions of interest is very helpful at this point.

Your child didn’t receive an offer at all. Can they still get into uni?

It’s normal to be worried if your child hasn’t received an offer, but it’s worth keeping in mind that there are many other students in the same boat. As we’ve described above, there are additional offer rounds that provide a second chance for course entry.

This is also a good time to begin thinking about alternative pathways, such as starting out in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector (which typically has easier entry requirements), seeking entry to a similar course at another institution, or enrolling into a tertiary preparation program. These programs, known as foundation courses, are available at most universities and are designed to prepare students for further study. They are a great option for students who weren’t able to meet the requirements for direct entry into a bachelor degree. Some are streamed based on field of study and allow graduates to enter the second year of a degree, subject to academic performance. The Good Universities Guide is an excellent resource for pathway tips and tricks. 

Your child is thinking about deferring university study. Is a gap year a bad idea?

After more than a decade of schooling, the thought of heading straight back into formal education can be off-putting. This is why so many school leavers choose to take a year off after high school to see the world, fill up their bank account or simply take a well-earned break.

There are also special gap year companies that allow your child to undertake a structured gap year program. Some of these programs see students volunteering or teaching English in developing countries, while others offer a jam-packed travel experience. If you’re concerned that your child will not return to study once they’ve had a taste of life away from school, rest assured that many gap year students actually begin tertiary study refreshed and ready for a challenge.

Course offer letters come with instructions to accept, reject or defer an offer, and most institutions allow students to defer for a semester or a full year. Some even extend the maximum deferral period to two years. It’s important that your child consults institutions before making any travel or work decisions, as some courses cannot be deferred. 

Further information

Universities and other tertiary providers run information sessions throughout January and February to help students work through their options. These are particularly useful for students who need assistance choosing an appropriate pathway if they did not gain entry to their preferred course. Contact institutions of interest for event dates.

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