ATAR not what you hoped for? Here’s what to do next

ATAR not what you hoped for? Here’s what to do next

Lower ATAR than you wanted? Here’s how you can still score a degree and the career of your dreams.


Year 12 is a big year and it feels like it’s all focused on one thing: the ATAR. But you know what? You don’t need an ATAR to get a degree - or to have a successful career. And there are lots of ways to get to get there, even if right now you're wondering what the past two years have been for.

"Many students don’t realise that there are many options and pathways available,” says Chisholm’s senior advisor of student recruitment Tania Pearce.

So, take a deep breath and check out these options.

Pathway into a degree from a TAFE course

One of the best ways to cut the ATAR queue altogether is through a bachelor degree pathway.

"If you still want a degree, you can 'pathway’ into it, which actually gives you more options than going straight to uni.” says Ms Pearce.

A pathway begins with a TAFE course like a certificate or a diploma, which do not require an ATAR for entry. When you successfully complete it, it can give you advanced standing into the related degree course and get you into that industry.

"For example, you could complete a Diploma of Community Services in one year, and continue on to the Bachelor of Community Services for two years," says Ms Pearce.

The great thing about a pathway is that after one year you’ll have a nationally recognised qualification to help you gain a job in the field while you continue studying at uni.

"You’re working while continuing to learn, which makes you highly employable at the end," says Ms Pearce.

"You’re a graduate with work experience in the field, the kind of ‘unicorn’ employers always hope to find.”

Get some experience in the real world

Let’s face it, after 13 years at school you’re probably ready for a break from the books.

Whether or not you call it a gap year, looking for an entry-level job in your chosen field is a good start. You’ll be able to suss out if the career you’ve chosen is really right for you and the experience you gain will look good on your resume and likely hold you in good stead with universities. And if you're finding it hard to get a foot in the door even at entry level, you can always volunteer or temp there.

Strapped for cash? A short certificate course, like a Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation, is heaps of fun and gets you out into the great outdoors while giving you employability skills and a qualification you can put towards a job.

An apprenticeship also allows you to earn while you learn. You’ll get hands-on experience while studying towards a certificate III or certificate IV qualification. Once you’ve finished your apprenticeship, you can go onto further study, including diplomas and degrees.

Still want to go straight to uni?

Many unis offer short, intensive bridging courses that get you ready for tertiary study. They can also help you to meet the prerequisite requirements for some courses.

You could also consider opting for your second or third choice of uni course, before transferring into your number one choice after a semester or two.

It's all good

And… breathe out. It's a cliché, but no matter what your ATAR score is, today is the first day of the rest of your life. And thanks to the great options in front of you, you can make it a great one.