Dissapointing ATAR results? There’s no such thing.

This past week has likely been a time of excitement, anxiety and relief for year 12 students across the country, with the release of their final year results.

And while many students will be satisfied with their results, others will undoubtedly be upset or dissapointed.

Although this is a natural response to the situation, the last thing a recent year 12 graduate should feel is dissapointed with themselves.

And as the parent, you need to tell them why. 

Consider, and share with them, the following points.

  1. They should feel an incredible sense of achievement, regardless of their score. 

‘Completing VCE is a great accomplishment that should be celebrated’, says our staff psychologist Christina Rigoli.

Reassure your child that completing 13 years of study, and all of the hard work and stress that came with it, is something they should be incredibly proud of.

Remind them what the VCE stands for: Victorian Certificate of Education.

They now have that certificate, and that accomplishment, no matter what their ATAR is.

2. That number does not and will not define them. 

‘A person’s worth and aptitude cannot be reduced to a single score’, says Christina.

This is something that is almost unanimously agreed upon outside of the highschool framework, but can be hard to recognise when you’re in the thick of it (that is, as a student or parent).

Dr Matthew Beard, writer and ethicicist at The Ethics Centre, explains why the grading system cannot be an accurate measure of capability or intelligence.

‘Some high achieving students might be getting by on natural ability rather than any special virtue. Other hard working, dedicated students might have suffered tough circumstances, exam nerves or other challenges that affected their result. Marks don’t tell us which students are better or more deserving. Even if all we have in the end is a result, the truth is it matters less than the effort put into achieving it.’

Getting a high score on the VCE/HSC relies on a huge number of factors, including hard work, diligence and commitment.

‘A single number can’t represent these virtues completely’, says Beard.

‘There will always be exceptions to a system that paints with a broad brush.’

The HSC/VCE is a unique period of assessment that is largely unlike any other; many new university students are shocked in their first year when the approach to education and assessment is so different.

Remind your child that a huge number of diverse factors contributed to their performance in highschool, and these won’t be the same factors working for or against them ongoingly through life.

2. Knowledge is power. 

Remind your child of all the things they’ve learnt throughout their schooling.

Regardless of their score, they have consumed so much infomation and deveoped so many new skills, and this is worthwhile in and of itself.

‘Knowledge is ‘intrinsically good’‘, says Beard.

‘Learning for learning’s sake is a completely reasonable activity and is part of what defines us as a species.’

The knowledge that your child has developed throughout their years of schooling is what they will take with them and will help them to shape their future – not their score.

3. It’s time to celebrate! 

Not only have they finished high school, they’re also about to become adults, and go out into the world on their own.

This is a hugely exciting time when they can start to plan and shape their future.

Get them excited about all the opportunities in front of them, and encourage them to relish in the relief of this stressful and challenging period being over.

3. There is life after VCE. 

If your child was hoping to get into a particular course, but did not achieve the marks necessary to do so, reassure them that this is NOT the end of the road.

‘There is always a backdoor into any course‘, says our senior psychologist Deb Jepsen.

‘For example, one of my clients got an ATAR of 55, and she is now at second year uni doing a course that requires an ATAR of 88!’

Realistically, high school is the most academically restrictive time of their lives.

They now have the opportunity to go out into the world, follow their passions, and turn into the young adults they want to be.

And a single number could never hold them back from doing that!

So reassure your children – and yourselves – that this is so much more than the end of their schooling…

It’s the beginning of their future! 



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