Different ways to use your ATAR or OP
Your ATAR or ATAR-Equivalent, or OP in Queensland, score is the main determinant if you want to get into University from senior secondary school. Not everyone gets the score they were hoping for, but don’t panic! There are a number of ways you can use your ATAR to get into a course that will start you on the pathway to a great career.
What if I don’t get the ATAR I need for my first preference?
The ATAR and OP scores that Unis provide are guidelines, and not definitive. While there are some courses that are always going to demand specific, higher scores, many others have a wider range of cut-offs. Even if you miss out on your first preference, there are second and third preference rounds. And because your second and third preferences are probably comparable courses to your first preference, they aren’t really going to stop you pursuing the future career direction you are thinking about right now.
Between preference rounds, you can also change your preferences, although you should probably only change if you need to, not just because you can. There is no use changing if your preferred courses are already at the top of your list!
Choose an alternative pathway
We are lucky to live in a country where the ATAR or OP is only one pathway into university. There are many alternative pathways to get into the course you want if you don’t get the ATAR you need.
There are many other private colleges and increasingly TAFE / VET institutions that offer Bachelor degrees. At some of these providers, cut-off scores are either relatively low or not used at all. In addition, some of the degrees these providers offer may be more hands-on, offer more practical instruction, or work in better with your other lifestyle needs, such as part-time work.
Transfer from TAFE to Uni
Many Unis have partnerships with local TAFEs, so if your ATAR doesn’t get you into your preferred Uni course first time around, you might be able to transfer into second-year university with full credits after a year in the TAFE or VET sector.
Transfer at or between Unis
If you decide you do want to start out at Uni regardless, you could use your ATAR or OP to choose a related course with a lower ranking at the Uni where you want to study, and work towards transferring into your preferred degree. Once you are studying, the Uni will usually focus on your current grades, and not your ATAR or OP, when you request to transfer.
You can also choose a similar course with a lower ATAR or OP at a different Uni. Smaller or regional Unis often have lower ATAR or OP requirements than larger ones, and they will possibly offer a more personable overall experience.
At the end of your first year, you can use your grades to apply to transfer back to the Uni that was your first choice. You just need to be focussed, and make sure you follow the right procedures in plenty of time. More people do this than you probably think!
Check out Uni bridging programs
Many Unis now also offer pre-tertiary or ‘bridging’ programs. There are a range of these preparatory courses which can help you to get ready for Uni study and how the Uni system works, or incorporate study units related to your desired degree.
For example, if a course requires a prerequisite – for example, a level of statistics that you didn’t study at school – a bridging course can help you to get the knowledge you need to gain admission to that course. If you are lacking a prerequisite, check with the institution to see what bridging courses they offer.
The combination of your ATAR or OP and having completed the bridging course may be what you need to get into your desired degree course.
There are a range of ways you can use your ATAR or OP, even if it’s not the score you had hoped for, to still get you into a course that will start you on your journey towards a great career. Your ATAR or OP doesn’t have to be a handbrake on your plans if you are determined enough and remain positive