Don't let your child's ATAR define them

First published on The Carousel December 2015

Tim Laurence blogger Tim Laurence
Dean of Studies

Many students haven’t prepared for the possibility of getting a lower than expected ATAR. If your child is one of those who needs to consider other options, encourage them to start investigating other ways to get into a courses that leads to their dream career.

Reassure them that they can balance what’s in their heart and their head by matching their skills and interests with a specific career. Have an open and frank discussion about where they see themselves in the next few years; it’s a learning process for both of you that will prove invaluable in clearly identifying their goals.

Encourage them to look at other universities that offer similar programs to the one they have set their heart on, a course that requires a lower ATAR or an alternative pathway to university. Many students have benefited from considering degree pathways, such as completing a diploma that is recognised by their university as an equivalent educational experience to their first year of university study.

For example, if your child is passionate about studying a Bachelor of Business at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) but they miss the ATAR for direct entry, then they could study a Diploma of Business at UTS:INSEARCH.

UTS:INSEARCH provides students with another way into UTS by looking at the student’s HSC average mark rather than their ATAR. Depending on the course chosen, completing a diploma can even fast track your child into the second year of a bachelor’s degree at UTS, if they achieve the required grade point average. Importantly, UTS:INSEARCH also provides students with the extra learning support, knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their university studies, so this sets them up for long-term success.

If you’re unsure of which program suits, I highly recommend attending university information days. These events are designed to give students and their anxious parents the opportunity to explore the campus and talk to lecturers who can answer any of your questions and meet other students. Also, reach out to your child’s Careers Advisor at their high school – they are a fantastic resource and can provide advice on alternative pathways.

Sometimes those finishing high school are really unsure of the next step to take. While you may want your child to start university straight away, they need a bit of a break before being able to decide on what they want to study. Taking a few months away, or a gap year and deferring their university offer, can help them clarify what they want to do and keep them motivated. Plenty of HSC graduates have benefited from taking a gap year to work, travel or even volunteer. As long as they don’t spend the year sitting on the couch, this can be a great opportunity for them to figure out what they want to do.

Whether your child gets the ATAR they need or not, it’s important to remind them that this rank does not define who they are or what they will do for the rest of their lives.

Tim Laurence is the Dean of Studies at UTS:INSEARCH

 

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