ATAR advice: follow your passions

17 December 2013

Match your degree to what you love, not to your ATAR. That's the advice of the University of Sydney's head of undergraduate student recruitment, Kaveh Ghezel.

"University is all about finding out what you're interested in and pursuing your passions," Ghezel said.

"Your ATAR points are not frequent flyer points. You don't have to use them all in fear they will be 'wasted'.

"We attract some of Australia's top-performing students at the University of Sydney, but they are not all studying courses that match their 99.95 ATARs. There are hundreds of students with ATARs of 98 or above studying arts," he said.

Despite the pressure you may feel from friends and family, it is also important to avoid thinking your entire career needs to be mapped out already.

"Although it's great to have a good idea of what you want to achieve in your life and career, deciding what to study at university is not the be all and end all," Ghezel said.

"This isn't the rest of your life. This is the next step in the rest of your life."

Approximately 40 percent of students will change their preferences between receiving their ATAR results and 4 January, the cut-off to change preferences with the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC).

"Students can often become overwhelmed by the number of choices available to them, so my advice would be to work backwards: start with what you would like to do in the future, rather than with your degree," Ghezel said.

"Transferring from one undergraduate degree to another is very common. the flexibility of our undergraduate degrees means you can explore your interests and pursue potential career paths while completing a degree that helps you get there."

For example, there are more than 1300 units of study you can take on as part of a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney, in areas as diverse as performance studies, history, psychology, languages, and economics.

There is also a range of flexible first-year entry programs, such as the Bachelor of Engineering Flexible First Year, which gives students the opportunity to explore different engineering disciplines before deciding on their ultimate course of study.

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