"...the ATAR does not determine the course of the rest of your life. If you don't do as well as you had hoped - and there are many reasons why people don't - it is not the end of your career hopes."
Dr Michael Spence is vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Sydney and recently penned an article in the SMH that puts the HSC into perspective.
Dr Spence makes the point that the HSC is not the be all and end all - but merely another step in our journey towards a career. Should you not get the marks you intended, there are many other options to pursue - but an all or nothing approach that leaves students so stressed by failure that their health (and surrounding family) suffer, is unnecessary.
I deal with many clients who can take the same message but for different reasons. Many people come to me unfulfilled, feeling they have missed out on life and fulfilling their potential because they did not do well in the HSC and they didn't attend university. To anyone feeling this don't despair - as Dr Spence says, the HSC is not the only option and there are many paths to a fulfilling career whether that is university or not.
Getting into University without an ATAR
If you are clear that you want to go to university as a mature-age student you have many advantages on your side. The most powerful being that you are highly committed and will most likely be interested in your subject - and this usually leads to great academic results. There are many ways to get into university without a HSC or the required ATAR including completing an open foundation year.
Then there is the little known STAT - the Special Tertiary Admissions Test. This test is for university applicants who don't have a recent Year 12 certificate, and is also required for some courses as a further entry selection criteria. If you're unsure if you need to sit STAT, check with the admissions office of the university to which you're applying. STAT can provide you with a much quicker path to university removing the need for a full year completing Open Foundation if the university and course you are applying for accepts it as an entrance criteria. For more information on STAT check out the ACER website http://www.acer.edu.au/tests/stat.
If you really want that degree then go for it. But if there is something else to pursue, don't be held back by thinking that you need a degree to be credible - choose a path and investigate the options available. TAFE have an incredible number of opportunities available and offer options for careers that are just as fulfilling but don't require degree status. To check out TAFE options in NSW go to https://www.tafensw.edu.au/.
Other options for courses that may require less of a time commitment can also be found at Seek Learning http://www.seeklearning.com.au/.
The main message is that there are numerous paths to a qualification. If university is right for you don't be put off by your age or a limiting belief that you are not "smart enough". Maturity and commitment go a long way to ensuring academic success. Don't give up!
If you would like help setting a career path and achieving your goals give Alison Walter a call on 0400 429 811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.