TAFE Illawarra and Kiama Community College experts say ATAR is not the be all and end all

DECISIONS: Education experts say the ATAR is not the "be all and end all" and decisions made now can be changed later on. There are also plenty of avenues to help school leavers find work or another way into university. Picture: iStock

DECISIONS: Education experts say the ATAR is not the "be all and end all" and decisions made now can be changed later on. There are also plenty of avenues to help school leavers find work or another way into university. Picture: iStock

As ATAR scores were released online on Thursday and official letters expected Friday, Illawarra education experts want to stress to school leavers that number does not determine the rest of their lives.

Some may have felt excitement at discovering a better score than expected, some may have felt disappointed, while others may just want to get straight into the workforce.

Kiama Community College Executive Officer Helen Zwicker urged people to try and not worry about the score, as it will not set life in stone. 

“The decision you make here and now is not going to be the be all and end all. On average we’re going to have seven career changes by the time we retire,” she said. “These days there’s so many different ways … there’s no need for them to go into despair.”

Ms Zwicker suggested for those feeling anxious about their future, to make some phone calls before Christmas and get a sense of what options may work for them. Her college offers pathway courses and pathway scholarships in conjunction with the University of Wollongong to assist in future study or an apprenticeship.

She said if someone wanted to do a Bachelor of Commerce or Business or Arts, her college and their sister college WEA in Wollongong offer a Certificate IV in Business Admin which could lead the student to be offered a university place.

If a degree wasn’t something to be aspired to, vocational training programs could be another pathway – like hair and beauty, outdoor recreation and fitness, accounting, horticulture and hospitality.

Ms Zwicker said now was the best time to get fee help, with the most amount of funding and scholarships she’d seen during her time in the industry.

TAFE Illawarra Institute is another provider offering pathway courses into university, or a trade like carpentry or bricklaying if someone had little to no experience.

“Everyone is individual so it depends on their career goals, if they want to get a job straight away we have a number of short courses,” said Assistant Faculty Director Joy Sharpe.

For those who want to “have another go” at achieving a higher ATAR, TAFE offers courses designed to help.

“Looking at a diploma course is also a really good option because it’s work related, it’s going to have lots of practical skills, it will help to get a job but it’s also another stepping stone to higher education,” said Ms Sharpe.

Both educators agreed speaking to a careers adviser was the best idea to map out a career pathway to suit the individual. They said trying short courses or pathway courses was also a good way at trialing a career area.

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