As someone who not only scored a dead average ATAR and also regrets starting uni without being properly ready for it (eventually deferred with two half degrees)(and no, two half degrees don’t equal a whole one)(and yes, paying HECS and not having a degree is as painful as you’d imagine), let me reassure you that there’s a lot of things worse than not performing crash-hot in high school. Stubbing your toe, for instance. Or walking 500m away from your house only to begin questioning whether you locked the front door or not.
Coming in dead average in high school doesn’t mean you’re dumb. Nor should it mean that you should give up on educating yourself further – you’ve just gotta find a shoe that fits.
And then once you’ve found a pair that slips on with ease, you can start walking, then jogging, then bolting towards your goals.
Fair enough if you’re a bit cynical, and you’re right, it ain’t that easy. That’s why we chatted to Faisal Saman and Annie Collins, two graduates of The College at Western who prove that there’s more than one way to pursue your dreams – even if your ATAR was so-so.
Although sharing your results when they’re released is pretty commonplace nowadays, Saman didn’t feel compelled to pass on that information.
“I don’t believe I ever mentioned my ATAR to anyone,” he says.“What I thought at that time was that it was a poor indication of what I actually can do.”
I was into science/physics/chemistry quite a bit and thought a career in that industry would be stable later down the track. That being said, at the same time, I had many varied interests and I knew I was not able to nurture those by adhering to any HSC system in place.
I enjoyed the laid-back nature of the environment. Once I accepted the fact that whatever I was doing at The College was exactly equivalent to university but at a slightly slower pace, I learnt to enjoy it. The main difference was structure – 2 semesters at university while it was 3 at The College. Also, being that it was a smaller class for almost all the units, you had more of the lecturer’s attention and I love attention, so it worked in my favour.
Much like Saman, Annie Collins didn’t fit the mould of the traditional education system – but that hasn’t stopped the 26-year-old from kicking ass career-wise.
“To put it bluntly, school wasn’t for me,” she says.
Don’t get me wrong, I had some incredible teachers that I still keep in contact with however the regimented environment and need to conform to a particular way of learning wasn’t for me. I’m the definition of a kinaesthetic learner, I need to throw myself into a task physically to ensure I get my head around all the information.
Initially, I avoided sharing my results like the plague. I didn’t believe that my ATAR was a true reflection of my potential. I was never a genius, but I wasn’t dumb either. The school environment did not suit me at all, I think that reflected in my marks. Once I started university and found my feet I became more confident in the fact that the number 52.8 was not going to define the rest of my life.
And boy, does she have the passion. Collins has some big ol’ goals that we’re sure she’s going to achieve.
My career goal is to become the General Manager of a theme park in the UK. I am now employed with Merlin Entertainments through my position at Sydney Tower Eye, they are the second largest theme park/attraction company worldwide.
The College is an incredible environment for those who need a little more time to transition from school to university. I considered my year of the diploma course to be a bridging year or ‘stepping stone’ into my future studies.
It’s an incredibly supportive environment that not only gave me an extra year to get my head screwed on after school, but offered the opportunity to complete a diploma course whilst still not missing out on a year of university.
As you can see, getting a bad ATAR doesn’t mean that it’s all over red rover. There are several ways to get into uni if that’s what you’re gunning for, so please for the love of god, don’t think that your life is over.
And if you’re keen to head down the same road as Annie Collins and Faisal Saman, then check out what courses are on offer at The College HERE.