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What to do if you didn’t get the ATAR you wanted: Your options

By Yvette McKenzie | 11 January 2019


Were you disappointed with your ATAR results? Well, it’s not the end of the world! The ATAR, or Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, is the main measure to gain entry into the majority of undergraduate university courses in Australia, so if you didn’t get the ATAR you planned on, this can feel devastating. But the good news is, there are many ways to enter the workforce, gain entry to university, study something that interests you, or even gain an apprenticeship with the ATAR you currently have.

A lower ATAR than you wanted is not the end of the world!

“University isn’t always the best option. Sometimes you can study the course you want to at a TAFE or private college,” explains The Conversation. As well as this,“…reports reveal that employers are not really interested in the institution you went to. Instead, they want to know about other aspects such as working within a team, possessing diverse abilities, work readiness and overall grades.”

There are many paths you can choose to take if the results you gained were not what you needed to get into a particular university, or a particular degree or course you wanted to do. Many students can take this hit quite hard, so there are things you should be doing to look after yourself to manager your personal and emotional wellbeing at this time.

What to do if you didn't get the ATAR required for your course

  1. Manage stress.
  2. Eat healthy foods.
  3. Get advice and help if you need to.

1. Manage stress.

What to do if you didn’t get the ATAR you wanted: Your options

“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” explains Alexander Peterman, a private tutor, in How to Deal With a Bad Grade. “Receiving a bad grade isn’t the end of the world. Don’t think one bad grade represents your overall worth as a student. The very fact that you are concerned shows that you are motivated and have high expectations for yourself.”

If you are feeling stressed, remember to approach this as a moment in time; even though your ATAR might feel like something that could change the course of your life, it really isn’t the end of the world. There are many opportunities ahead for you to face.

2. Eat healthy foods.

What to do if you didn’t get the ATAR you wanted: Your options

After spending so much time studying, cramming, working and stressing out, it’s likely that you have indulged in plenty of bad food, lots of coffee, sugary snacks and late nights. This can leave your body feeling sluggish, your mood low and your confidence waning.

“In the short term, stress can shut down appetite,” claims scientists from Harvard Health Publishing, “but if stress persists, it's a different story. The adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up.” Choose healthy foods to fuel your day, lay off the coffee, get a good night’s sleep and try to exercise moderation, especially with alcohol and partying. As well as this, check out Skillstalk’s recommendations for healthy “brain foods”.

3. Get advice and help if you need to.

What to do if you didn’t get the ATAR you wanted: Your options

If you really start to feel depressed about your options after high school, then get advice from a professional. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost three million Australians are currently dealing with depression and/or anxiety. “This might affect their wellbeing, personal relationships, career and productivity,” according to Beyond Blue.

It’s a troubling fact that young people are less likely than any other age group to seek professional help, even though more than 75% of mental health problems occur before the age of 25. If you are struggling with intense feelings, then talk to your GP, reach out to family and friends and head to online resources such as Beyond Blue for advice on where to head to find a counsellor who can help you.

What are your options after high school?

  1. Find a different pathway to university.
  2. Get an apprenticeship.
  3. Enter the workforce.
  4. Study a vocational course.
The great news is that there are so many options for young people to pursue after high school, and university is just one path. The Sydney Morning Herald recently ran an article on one of Australia’s “highest paying jobs” that requires no degree. Thea Pratt earns over $100, 000 per annum driving a Sydney train, which is more than she would earn as a dentist, a career that requires five plus years of study. While train driving might not be for everyone, the message is to “think outside the square” when it comes to your options, post-high school.

1. Find a different pathway to university.

What to do if you didn’t get the ATAR you wanted: Your options

If you are really set on going to university, there may be many ways to do this, even if you didn’t gain the ATAR that you needed for a particular course. Did you know that you can often turn a diploma into a bachelor degree?

Many providers’ diploma courses are Nationally Recognised Qualifications which means that they are recognised by Australian universities for entry and credit transfer. The amount of credit transfer will vary depending on the degree a student transfers to, and the grades attained at the learning institution you are studying with.

For example, Upskilled has a number of Credit Agreements in place with Universities across Australia. Graduates may be eligible for guaranteed entry and credit transfer into the following Bachelor Degree/s after successful completion of select Upskilled qualifications.

2. Get an apprenticeship.

What to do if you didn’t get the ATAR you wanted: Your options

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that in the 2017 Budget, “The Government announced it was allocating $1.5 billion to the Skilling Australians Fund, an initiative prioritising apprenticeship participation… supporting up to 300,000 apprenticeships, traineeships, pre-apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships.”

As well as this, under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program, employers of eligible Australian Apprentices at Certificate III, IV, diploma, or advanced diploma level may attract a completion incentive of $3,000. Choosing to undertake an apprenticeship might be a career option that would suit your skills, and provide a career pathway that you might not have considered previously.

3. Enter the workforce.

What to do if you didn’t get the ATAR you wanted: Your options

Of course, you don’t need to go to university or study a course after high school if you don’t want to; many people plan to enter the workforce directly, and gain all the experience they need on the job. Famously, there are many successful;, creative, highly-powered and wealthy people who never completed or even started at university, including Vogue editor Anna Wintour, TV host Ellen DeGeneres and Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Have a look at this page of Australian Prime Ministers’ tertiary qualifications and you’ll see that no fewer than 13 have no university qualifications, including Paul Keating and John Curtin.

If you’re ready to jump straight into a job role then it’s essential that you research your options very thoroughly. Check out Upskilled’s Job Role section for statistics on hundreds of jobs that you might be eligible for. You can also research your chosen industry (for example, IT or Marketing) in the Industry Insights section.

4. Study a vocational course.

What to do if you didn’t get the ATAR you wanted: Your options

The great news is that there are many options for study that people who didn’t get the ATAR they needed to get into university can explore. Upskilled offers over 100 qualifications, most of which have little to no entry requirements, and may point you towards the career of your dreams, or even help you gain a pathway to university.

No matter what you want to do, whether it’s counselling, network and database design or even project management and human resources; there is a qualification to suit your needs. Upskilled courses are designed to study online, meaning that you can even work your study in with your other personal and career commitments.

Download your free guide to what to do after high school

Download Upskilled’s free eBook What to do after High School? which is a guide about the options you can explore after high school and beyond, including how to stay happy and healthy, and information about your options after school, all in a downloadable format.

Download the What to do after High School? eBook here.

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