The world has a way of making us think that getting a good ATAR is the only way to be successful. Truth is, while your school marks can be seen as a proof of your schooling, it’s not an indication of what’s possible for you in the future; there are plenty of options available that help you achieve your dreams and for many of these, your ATAR is irrelevant.

It’s hard to imagine that sometimes, isn’t it?

The current school system drills into us that we need to do well, get a good ATAR and go straight to uni to start a degree. While it’s true that developing a good work ethic early can lead to future success, there are loads of reasons why it’s not that simple for everyone.

You could have worked hard all year only for external issues to get in the way last minute. You could have been influenced to choose subjects that weren’t right for you in the first place. You could even be the type of student that would excel in a different environment, but the school system just didn’t set you up for that.

For a year that’s been wrought with stress, it’s a kick to the shins to be denied the satisfaction of getting the ATAR you want or deserve. But now more than ever, we have to remember that there are so many more important things than a mark– especially your mental health.

The ATAR system only measures a very specific way of thinking and ignores all the other ways somebody can find success. It’s not just you or me saying this either; we surveyed students and recent school-leavers across the country and only 13% of youth agree with the ATAR system.

Schools and teachers and parents can be so singular in their approach to the future that we have trouble figuring out what we’re going to do if we don’t achieve the ATAR we set for ourselves. The truth is, using this mark is one way to get where you want. It may be the most direct, but it just isn’t for everyone, nor is it the only way.

Data released by the Federal Government shows that only 66% of university students complete their degrees after six years. This means that young people are dropping out, changing courses, or simply taking longer to finish their degrees- all signs that they’re being pushed into an environment they’re not totally comfortable in.

Instead, studying a VET course lets you focus on gaining practical skills that are actually important for a job rather than being bogged down learning too much theory in an academic context. Better yet, entry to these courses aren’t reliant on your ATAR which means it’s smooth sailing no matter how you did this year.

The teaching delivered at VET institutions is much more hands-on and centred around a vocational area that you’re passionate in, plus your teachers are industry experts with real experience. Courses range from a couple weeks to a couple years, though they all equip you with what you need to go out there, find a job and succeed.

Most of the areas that VET courses are offered in are experiencing high demand for new workers, so you know there’ll be jobs waiting for you. In fact, the Smart and Skilled program is offering government subsidies for heaps of high quality courses in valuable industries that make it easier for students to gain qualifications and enter the workforce. With over 700 courses on this list, you’re bound to find something that’s both interesting to you and affordable.

Visit the VET site here to find out more information about vocational education and be sure to browse the government-subsidised courses and find one that suits you.