Absolutely nothing.

Kidding…kinda.

In case you’re somehow living under a rock, your ATAR has now been released. For some of you, the suspense and stress is at ease now that you’ve secured the mark you were after. For others, anxiety may be at an all-time high and you’re probably left wondering ‘what now?’

Well, let me tell you that the ATAR isn’t all it’s made out to be. Don’t get me wrong, if you did smash your ATAR, kudos to ya! It’s not easy and we know that a lot of hard work went into it.

But, here’s what you actually use your ATAR for: to apply to universities. That’s it.

It’s literally a number that determines one way of entry into a uni course. You’ve spent your teenage years slogging away at study just so you can apply for universities and do it all over again.

What’s great though is that there are alternative options into uni, even if you don’t have an ATAR, and there’s plenty of other things in your life that don’t rely on an arbitrary ranking. Here’s what you’re never going to use your ATAR for. In fact, it will probably have absolutely zero influence over any of these aspects of your life.


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1. Travelling

To travel is to live. Generic, cliché, cheesy but absolutely bloody true.

Trekkin’ it around the globe is about more than just ticking off countries on a list. Travelling means experiencing another way of life.

I recently went to Japan and found myself on the rural tropical island of Ishigaki. I didn’t expect to be so in awe of how phenomenal it was. From island hopping to living amongst the locals, I was immersed in the culture and came back a different person.

It doesn’t take a 99.95 ATAR to hop on a plane, ditch your worries and have an experience of a lifetime. Get out there, the locals don’t care about your results.

2. Landing a job

Sometimes it can feel like everyone is telling you that you need to go to uni and get a degree to make sure you’ll earn the big bucks one day. Truth is, an ATAR isn’t going to ensure that you start raking in the cash. There are a bunch of jobs out there that you can nab without ever stepping foot in a uni and chances are, your employer is never going to ask what your ATAR was anyway.

Pay rises, promotions and bonuses aren’t based on what percentage of the state you managed to beat in your exams and no one is going to tell you to hand in your resignation because you got a mystery mark.

3. Your relationships

There’s no dating app out there that demands you chuck your ATAR in your bio and asking someone out isn’t prefaced by your Year 12 exam marks. Your relationships, romantic or platonic, aren’t going to change because of your ranking.

Your best mate isn’t your best mate because of how good you are academically, and nothing is going to change in your friendship because of your marks. Your friends care about things like how kind you are, how much you make them laugh and how often you’re there for them when they’re bawling their eyes out. Your ATAR doesn’t affect any of that.


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4. Your family

Even though it might feel like your ATAR is going to affect how your family sees you, the reality is that they’re going to love you regardless of whether you topped your class or came last in the year. It might feel like there’s a lot of pressure to prove something to people like you ‘rents with your final ranking, but all they really want is for you to be happy and turns out, your ATAR doesn’t determine that either.

5. You

The system the ATAR is based around is built on standardised testing and it only takes into account a few quantifiable qualities. It doesn’t consider your ambition, resilience, creativity, generosity and kindness. There’s so much that the ATAR can’t measure, especially when we’re so young. Life really begins after high school and there’s no way your ATAR has any influence over what makes you, you. 

That number doesn’t define you. It doesn’t account for even a tiny part of your personality and as time goes by, you’ll realise that there’s so many other things that make up who you are- not some number that everyone is going to forget about anyway.

The verdict?

The ATAR is only good for applying to universities. End of story. Despite all the pressure and years of schooling spent drilling it into our brains that the ATAR is the pinnacle of our being…it’s really not.

by Joshua

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