By now you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of what the ATAR is but if not, we’ll run through a little explainer again.

Basically, your ATAR is your ranking (not a mark) that gives you an idea of your position compared to all the other students in your cohort. Whatever you end up getting (it’ll be between 0 and 99.95), will also be comparable against students in other states as well as your own.

It’s meant to provide an indicator of your overall academic achievement and it’s worked out based on your final years in high school.

Schools love to drill it into you that the ATAR is the be all and end all, that uni is your only option and if you don’t get the marks you need you’ll never into the course you want.

The ATAR is designed so that uni’s can sus out who will do well in tertiary education and to predict who will succeed in a uni course. Basically, if you want the most straightforward path into a uni, a solid ATAR is the way to go.

But here’s the thing, despite how important your ATAR seems right now, it has an expiry date of about a year.

After that…it’s kind of redundant.

First up, people will straight up not give a shit about your ATAR almost immediately after they come out. After a year or more of study and stress and a million conversations about ATAR’s, approximately a month (it could be sooner) after they’re released everyone will stop caring about it. (Plus, you’ll be sick and tired of talking about it.)

When you get your ranking you’ll probably tell your ‘rents and maybe your friends. Your school might make a big deal out of it if you ranked really high and extended family members you only ever see at Christmas will occasionally ask about what you ended up getting. Then, you’ll start uni or work or travelling or an apprenticeship and never talk about it again.

If you do end up heading to uni you could be sitting next to someone who got 99.95 or someone who got a ranking of 64 and you’ll never know because once you’re in, that’s it, you’re in. No one really cares about how you managed to get there.

On top of all this, there’s heaps of alternative entry options out there and once a year passes, you’ll be able to apply to universities as a non-school leaver (which takes into account things like your secondary studies, tertiary studies and other relevant factors like your employment experience).

Each individual uni has their own alternative pathways if you don’t meet the regular admission requirements (like the ATAR cut off). There’s a nice little run down on them here, but basically it includes things like doing a TAFE course or a bridging course. Plus, there’s always the option to apply for a lower course, get some solid marks and transfer into the degree you actually want later.

So, while it might feel like your ATAR is going to determine the rest of your life, turns out it’s really not. If you really want to go to uni there’s plenty of ways to get there. Just do your best, use your ATAR to get into your dream course if you can and sus out your other options if you can’t-there’s heaps out there.