The HSC can be a stressful time for most students, and for some, hard work may not necessarily pay off.

Steph Nash

There’s a lot of pressure on students to perform well in their HSC – whether it be aiming for a band 6 average, the highest possible ATAR, or simply wanting the mark you need to be accepted into a university course.

Due to the competitive nature of the HSC, some students unfortunately don’t get the results that they expect. This could be due to a number of things, such as stress, anxiety or personal issues.

But there is good news! As it turns out, the HSC may not necessarily be do or die. Juliet Moore, an educational psychologist from Lane Cove, gives her tips for students wanting to bounce back from an unexpected HSC mark.

“It’s not the end of the world at all,” Moore said. “There are so many ways to get into university.”

Moore suggests that students look at undertaking ‘pathway’ subjects at TAFE or university, which are available for students seeking alternative means of course entry. Pathway courses can be counted as credit points for some subjects, which can help students get into the course that they desire.

This is similar to an internal transfer, by which students use credit points from undergraduate subjects to get into courses with higher ATAR requisites. Both of these options require a good final passing mark, so time and hard work is a definite necessity!

For students that are set on doing a certain course at university, but are concerned that they won’t get the marks they need for requisite subjects, bridging courses are always available for students to brush up on their assumed knowledge.

The University of Technology, Sydney, runs a special program to help get students into university. UST:INSEARCH takes students based on their HSC average marks, as opposed to their overall ATAR score. Sally Payne, Associate Dean of Studies at UTS:INSEARCH, says that disappointed students should realise that an unexpected ATAR is not a final outcome.

“It’s important to remember that getting a lower than expected ATAR doesn’t mean the end of your university goal,” she said. “Although you may not be happy with your results, there are alternative ways of getting into the course you want which will keep your career plan on track.”

UTS:INSEARCH gives students the opportunity to complete a diploma after they finish high school. This serves as an alternative means of entry for acceptance into some UTS undergraduate courses.

“The best piece of advice I can offer students who receive a lower than expected ATAR is to know your options,” Payne said. “We offer diploma programs that can lead students into the 2nd year of a range of bachelor degrees at UTS – depending on the course chosen and meeting the Grade Point Average required.”

Moore recommends that, above all, students should relax during and after the HSC. She stresses that the ATAR should not define a child’s future, and that the measure of time and effort might not necessarily be reflected by a single mark.

“Students could also take a gap-year or do a trade certificate, so that they at least have something behind them before they enter full-time study,” she said. “Don’t let your mark determine who you are and where you want to be in life. It’s not about how intelligent you are, it’s about the effort you put in that will achieve results.”

One student who can vouch for alternative means of university entry is Oliver Wijaya. Disappointed with his overall ATAR mark, Wijaya went to UTS:INSEARCH to complete a diploma of marketing, and is now enrolled in his second year of study at UTS.

“After I completed my HSC I didn’t get the required ATAR to enter UTS. At the time, I thought there was no way for me to get in, but then I remembered UTS:INSEARCH,” he said. “Through UTS:INSEARCH, I completed my diploma and am now in my second year of a business degree at UTS. In five years time I see myself promoting or marketing a product around the world. I want to start marketing both in Japan and Australia. I want to fly back and forth, and after that, I want to promote something to the world.”