In Summary

It sometimes feels as though numbers govern our whole life. PINs, access codes, scales and measurements – they can all act as gatekeepers to the things we really want.  For school leavers, at this time of year, it can feel as though your entire future rides on yet another number! But what should you do if your ATAR is higher or lower than expected?

What to do when your ATAR is higher than expected

If all your hard work really pays off and your ATAR comes in higher than anticipated, you may consider changing your course preferences. But you still need to choose a career path that’s right for you. Not everyone is cut out to be a doctor! 

If you do decide to make a change, be sure you’ve done your research about the degrees you’re choosing to preference. They may take longer to complete, for example, or have specific subject prerequisites. You might also want to take another look at other aspects of uni life before settling on a degree; does the uni you’re choosing offer industry placements or international study opportunities? 

A high ATAR may also bring exciting opportunities such as eligibility for academic scholarships.

Swinburne University of Technology has announced a boost to its scholarship program worth more than $2 million for students commencing in 2015 and offers a range of scholarships providing up to $5000 per annum to high-achieving students. Unlike some bursary programs, which reward high ATARs with fee reductions, Swinburne scholarships can be used to cut down living expenses, IT support or equipment fees, leaving you more time to concentrate on study.

What to do when your ATAR is lower than expected

A lower-than-expected ATAR can come as a real blow when you have your heart set on a particular course, but don’t let the numbers game get you down! There are many options available to school leavers these days, including alternative pathways to university entry.  

Firstly, consider changing your VTAC preferences to improve your chances of entry. Keep in mind that you can always change courses down the track; you may even be able to carry credit from first-year subjects into other degrees. During your first year at uni, you’ll gain a much better understanding of how well suited you are to study and what career options are available to you. This is valuable knowledge! Need help with preferences? Come along to a free one-on-one course advice session at Swinburne during December. 

If changing preferences is not an option, take a look at the many alternative pathways to university. Consider building your technical expertise with a vocational course, which can lead to career success on its own or can accelerate your entry into a future degree. UniLink diplomas are another option for students who miss direct entry to a degree. These bridging courses are the equivalent of the first year of a degree, conducted in a supportive environment across specific subject areas such as engineering, design, IT or business.

If you decide to take a year out to reconsider your university options, make it count! Look for voluntary opportunities and make a difference in your community; volunteering also looks great on your CV. Or look for work experience opportunities in the area you want to work in to determine whether it’s really the right role for you. It’s also possible to start a course mid-year. Meet with the course advisers at Swinburne during the year so that you’re confident about your pathway for the future.

There is life beyond your ATAR

There’s no denying that waiting for ATAR results is stressful and when those numbers are finally released, they won’t always be what you were expecting. Luckily Swinburne University of Techology provides many pathways towards a dynamic education and career success regardless of that number!

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