Yes, the traditional way of getting into uni is via your ATAR. You study hard, neglect some of your social interactions and hope that your ATAR is higher than that stupid cut-off.
However, this isn’t the only way into university. Likewise, it isn’t a true indicator of what degree you could be eventually studying and the career path that you pursue.
If you do fall short of the cut-off there are some alternative pathways you can take to end up with your desired degree. Choosing the best uni path is an important task and can get quite complicated. Don’t hesitate to talk to your school career counsellor (they are technically still your school counsellor until end of term 4, besides you’ll be going back to your school for the exams) or ring up and talk to a university advisor about what the uni offers as alternative pathways.
Some of the alternate ways into your degree:
Just Keep Trying:
Just because you are under your cut off, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep applying. Wait for a second or third round offer. If that doesn’t end up working out then there’s mid year applications as well. You could spend some time travelling the world…..OR…. earn some cash and THEN travel the world …. OR….do something you love…. like learn the guitar and THEN travel the world. Damn it, at least go to New Zealand.
Another option is to study a degree or another qualification online. You can study with a university (google ‘Open Universities’), TAFE or another type of education provider. The first thing that we need to wrap around our heads is that “TAFE” isn’t a place for people with ‘no brains.’ It’s endorsed by the government to provide training and education to those who aren’t in university and etc. Sometimes… these people may have suffered from distressing family situations, academic disadvantages, mental illnesses and etc…. and their only pathway is through TAFE, so it’s quite disrespectful to think of it as a place for ‘drop outs.’ I know quite a few people who completed a TAFE training course….who are doing quite well for themselves and really, really enjoying their lives and their jobs.
Go The Back Road (Transfers):
A good way to get into the degree that you want to study is to enrol in another course and then apply for a transfer. Go for a course in a similar stream, with a lower entry mark and if you study hard enough then the university will deal with you ‘internally,’ ignoring the whole ‘external ATAR shenanigans’ and consider you for your preferred course.
Going back to the “online study” option (see above): don’t rule TAFE and online universities out. A diploma can be counted towards certain credits at universities and many private colleges also have agreements with universities so you can transfer once you’ve started your course there. For example, the Australian Institute of Music and most music faculties in NSW universities.
Furthermore, most transfer mark requirements require a ‘distinction’ average…. and maybe not even that. That’s a 75% average, possibly 70%. Think about 70 something as a mark compared to the 90s that your tutoring centre expects for weekly homework. It requires effort, but it’s definitely an option!
Try out the STATs:
I met someone the other day who is doing a Bachelor of Veterinary Science Degree at the University of Sydney, who got in with the STATs rather than an ATAR. I don’t know much about the STAT but I think it’s a general exam that tests your ability in literacy and numeracy. The exam is managed by UAC…. so yes, you do have to deal with those guys again, but that’s always an option.
Back to School:
You could always re-do the HSC! No? Okay…. fine!
Well, the good news is that you can go through some of the units that you didn’t do too well in at TAFE, so you don’t necessarily have to jump back into school uniform and end up dealing with those annoying year 11s.
SECRET: CHECK OUT RPLs:
The RPL stands for “Recognition of Prior Learning.” Basically, universities actually love it if you’ve had previous working experience. By ‘working experience’ they mean full time. Universities do take employment experiences and life experiences seriously and take it as consideration. If you enrol as a mature age student in a few years time, the possibility of acceptance rises. All you need is a letter from your employer to prove that you’ve actually worked full time for more than a year.