In Summary

  • Swinburne student advisers share tips to help if your ATAR is better or worse than expected.

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.  If you are a school leaver, at this time of year, everyone talks as though your entire future rides on yet another number! Don’t listen! Choose to follow your own path.

Here are some tips gathered from Swinburne course advisers to help if your ATAR is not what you 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 that shouldn’t mean studying a course you’re not interested in just because you have the ATAR required.

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 or have specific subject prerequisites. You might also want to take another look at other aspects of university life before settling on a degree; consider the options available for industry placements or international study opportunities. 

A high ATAR may also provide access to academic scholarships or specific programs designed to develop and stretch the skills of even the highest achiever.

Swinburne’s High Achievers Program offers students a tailored program of study, mentoring, an international study tour, and access to a research group or industry program from the first year of your degree. The program is open to recipients of a range of scholarships  worth up to $5000 per annum with an additional $2000 towards an international study experience, plus a guaranteed place in Swinburne’s student accommodation.

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 get you down! There are many options available and alternative pathways to university entry.  

First, consider changing your VTAC preferences to improve your chances of an offer. Keep in mind that you can always switch courses down the track; you may even be able to carry credit from first-year subjects into your new degree. Your first year of university will give you a much better understanding of how well suited you are to a particular area of study. This is valuable knowledge! If you’d like advice about the options and preferences relevant to your specific circumstances you may also book a one-on-one appointment with a Swinburne course adviser in December. 

Also take a look at other pathways to university. Consider building your technical expertise with a vocational course, which can lead to career success on its own or accelerate your entry into a future degree. UniLink diplomas are another option for Year 12 students who miss direct entry to a degree. UniLink diplomas are the equivalent of the first year of a degree, conducted in a supportive environment across specific subject areas such as engineering, design, health, IT or business.

Are you thinking about taking a year out to reconsider your options? Then make it count! Look for volunteering opportunities that 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 and see if it really is right for you. It’s also possible to start a course mid-year. Meet with a course adviser 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 provides many pathways towards a dynamic education and career success, regardless of that number! 

VTAC’s Change of Preference period ends at 12 noon on 21 December 2015.