Keep calm and know your options

Rowan Kunz blogger Rowan Kunz
Guest blogger
Founder, Art of Smart Education

The best piece of advice I would give Year 12 students who are about to receive their ATAR is ‘don’t worry’. It’s a bit of cliché (and something you’ve probably heard it a million times during your HSC year) but even if you don’t get the ATAR you need to get into your dream course there are still options available to you.

And, more importantly, if you don’t get the ATAR you were hoping for on Thursday, December 19 it’s definitely not the end of the world. But it is time to make some final decisions about what to do with your university preferences.

Option 1: Don’t change a thing

The first option is to keep your preferences as they are, even if your dream course has an ATAR higher than what you scored. Sound crazy? It’s not.

Let me explain how it works. Universities will make first offers to students who have put a course as their first preference and scored above the ATAR cut-off. Each course has a certain number of places. For example, 400 students might be offered a place during the first-round offers. Of these students, not all of them will accept a place. Or maybe fewer than 400 people apply for the course.

What happens then?

In the second round of offers the university will cast its net wider to offer more students a place in order of ATAR scores. This means that if your ATAR is fairly close (within 5 points) to the cut-off, and the course isn’t excessively popular, you have a very good chance of getting an offer to your dream course.

Option 2: Rethink your preferences

If your ATAR is more than 5 points lower than the course cut-off there are two changes that you can make to your university preferences so they can work in your favour.

  1. Choose a similar course with a lower ATAR cut-off at the same university where you would like to study. Once you’re accepted, work hard to get a distinction average and transfer to your desired course the next year.
  2. Pick a similar course with a lower ATAR cut-off at a different university. Again, work to get a distinction average and then transfer between universities. Because it’s a similar course, you should be able to get full course credits, which means you don’t lose any time.

Option 3: Find another way

Another option is to research an alternative pathway into university. Pathway providers like UTS:INSEARCH allow students to study a UTS Foundation Studies program or a Diploma that allows for direct entry into UTS. In most cases, students with a diploma are guaranteed entry into the second year of an undergraduate degree at UTS.

No matter which option you choose, just remember, if you’re ATAR isn’t as high as you’d hoped there is always another pathway into university. And if you don’t get the ATAR you were hoping for on Thursday, December 19 be prepared by knowing your options.


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