I got my ATAR a year ago. I remember being half-asleep, perched on the edge of my bed, waiting for that doomed number to come through on my phone. When it appeared, I was swept with instant relief.

My 82.75 ATAR was nothing for the history books, but it meant that I was safe. I had the choice of going to my preferred university and doing a course that I wanted to study. There was to be no change in plans from that point forward. I really thought I had the next few years completely planned.

I was completely wrong.

All through high school you’re told two different messages about your ATAR. On one hand, you’re told that it’s the most important number to exist and that if you don’t ace it, you’re doomed for failure. On the other hand you’re told to stop stressing about it, that it doesn’t mean that much and that you don’t need it to succeed.

Juggling these two completely different ideas can throw you into a loop, and when you’re actually sitting those exams it’s hard to focus on anything but how crucial it is to your future. But, a year on from getting my juicy number, I can tell you this:

It really doesn’t mean shit.

Okay, that may have been a stretch. If your passion is Medicine or Law, you’ll probably need it a ‘lil more so than I did. But, there actually is a tonne of different options that, in my opinion, supersede what the ATAR can offer, if you’re ambitious enough or have got a bit of passion.

I was at uni for just a week this year. I made the rash decision to instead take a late gap year and see whether or not I could hustle a writing career. A year, two overseas trips and 50-ish articles later, I can safely say that ditching my ATAR was one of the best things I’ve ever done; but being thrown into the deep end was wild.

I didn’t do a lot of sitting around after I dropped out. I knew that I had to prove myself in some way if I didn’t have a degree to back me up. This led me to sending emails to anyone and everyone who’s email existed on a public platform, begging with them (professionally of course) to let me write something for their website.

Turns out, if you’re confident enough, people are nice! People want to give you a shot! And as soon as I started collecting different publications who I had written for, an unintentional portfolio came about. I was able to use this to gain an actual, in-house writing job, whom I am writing this article for as we speak! Crazy!

Obviously, not everyone has a weird writing passion, but, the same mentality that I had can be applied in most fields, you’ve just got to make an effort. Talk to people in your dream industry. Remember their names and network. Volunteer for things, pump up your resume. Ambition is a trait and a skill; use it to your advantage.

If you’ve already looked at your ATAR or if you’re yet to open it, please know you’re going to be okay. Of course, if it’s great and your super keen on uni, go for it. But, if things end up a little pear-shaped just know that it isn’t the end of the world.

A motto that has sincerely helped me is, fake it till you make it. You are completely capable of making the world your own, you’ve just got to remember your ambition.


Everything in this article is bloody true and Ben (who wrote the article) is the ultimate testament to hustling to get yourself where you want to be. He reached out to us, landed a writing gig and now the Year13 team wouldn’t be complete without him. He put in the effort to get where he wanted and we couldn’t recommend this approach more. If you want to achieve something, work to get there–ATAR or no ATAR.