Tips to remember on ATAR release day

About to finish Year 12? Nervous about ATAR release day? Let’s be honest, waiting to find out the single score that’s supposed to define your future isn’t fun.

At Study Work Grow, we believe that you should be judged on everything you’ve done and the person you’ve become, rather than one little number.

In a few months, you’ll be off at uni or TAFE, working, or even backpacking around some far flung part of the world and no one will either know or care what you got for your ATAR. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop you from worrying right now. So here’s our key tips for retaining your sanity on ATAR release day.

You don’t have to know what you want to do yet

When you leave school, a whole world of options open up in front of you. There are a few paths you can walk down that may seem quite different, but the truth is that all of them intersect, and it’s even possible to jump from one to another if you want.

Say you want to go to uni – you did well at school, you want to keep learning, and you have a few favourite subjects…but you’re not quite sure how they translate into a career yet.

You can always pick something that lets you choose from a range of different subjects, and narrow it down after a couple of semesters. Don’t choose not to go to uni, just because you don’t know what you want to do yet – you have plenty of time to work that out later.

Want to get a trade or go to TAFE? Fantastic; there are literally thousands of vocational courses you can choose from. You can sign up for pre-apprenticeship courses, try as many as you like, and eventually find something you love – whether it’s baking, painting, electrical, automotive, or beauty therapy.

Get a part-time job if you need to, and have a go at anything that sparks your interest in your spare time. Sure, it’s not as ‘neat and tidy’ as just picking something, but there’s way less pressure and you’re more likely to enjoy yourself. Plus, you’ll have tonnes of experience for your resume.

The point here is that you don’t need to have your whole life neatly planned out at 18 years old. And even if you do, chances are you’ll find yourself changing your mind or falling into unexpected opportunities down the track. Don’t fall victim to analysis paralysis.

If you don’t get the ATAR you want, you still have options to achieve your goals

If your ATAR won’t get into your dream course, it’s not the end. We cannot overstate this – there are a hundred and one ways to get into just about every course, including:

  • Picking something else that’s related, then transferring across.
  • Applying directly for alternative entry.
  • Going to another uni with lower entry requirements – you might find it’s better there anyway.
  • Working for 12 months first. Do a heap of short courses, get work experience, network in your community, volunteer, then apply again at the end of next year.

The ranks of mature age students are growing by the year. Lots of people leave school, work for a while, then end up going back to study later on. Think outside the box and you could be surprised where you end up.

Your ATAR does not reflect who you are as a person

One number cannot define you or who you are. If you have an incredible ATAR, but no interpersonal skills, extra-curricular activities, or work experience, it won’t be enough to get you hired. Many high-achieving students often fall into the trap of focusing solely on their studies and neglecting other aspects of their life, which can sometimes undermine a fantastic ATAR.

Conversely, if you’ve worked hard at school and have reports that reflect your effort, you can easily combat a low ATAR. Get letters of recommendation from your teachers (or principal if you can). Taking on leadership positions at school, volunteering, being involved in sports and clubs, and presenting yourself well can go a really long way when it comes to impressing both universities and employers.

You’re not alone

This is a stressful time, so rely on the people who care about you. There are lots of people who are ready to help right now, and once you get your results, there are a huge range of resources you can take advantage of.

  • Reach out to family and friends. They know that even if you’re expecting a good score this is a hard time, and would love to be there for you.
  • Get in touch with your preferred uni. Once you’ve got your score, many institutions hold post-ATAR info sessions where you can ask questions and find out about your options, even if you didn’t get the score you wanted.
  • There are lots of support services available as well. Youth Beyond Blue are just one group who will be there if you need someone to talk to.

Good luck!

We wish you all the best of luck on ATAR release day and hope you get the results you’ve been working hard for. And remember – no matter what your score looks like, you always have options.

You can find heaps more resources on further study, careers and jobs, alternative pathways, study and health, and much more on our website here.

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