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What to do when your child gets their ATAR: our advice for parents

12 December 2017
Support your child through the final hurdle of their HSC year

HSC, ATAR results, and UAC preferences are three terms that may have caused some stress in your household this year. Here's our advice to help you support your child to make the decision that's best for them - no matter what their ATAR result. 

The final year of school and completing the HSC is often as much of a journey for parents as their children. The moment when ATARs are released can cause a flurry of emotion - excitement, concern, confusion, overwhelm, or panic - in students and parents alike. 

The important thing to remember is that an ATAR result is only indicative of what options are available at this point in time. Our key advice is to make an informed choice that stays true to your child's interests, irrespective of whether their ATAR is higher or lower than expected.

Here are a few common questions that may come up for you at this time. 

1. My child's ATAR is higher than expected - should they change preferences?

This depends on whether the course that is currently first in your child's UAC preferences is their dream course. Students may underestimate what ATAR score they think they'll receive and placed a course with a more reasonable ATAR cut-off as their first preference. If that ideal course is now within reach, by all means put it first. At the University of Sydney, most of our courses have a fixed ATAR to provide transparency and support students in making an informed decision. This means if your child has achieved the required fixed ATAR, placing this couse as their first preference via UAC will guarantee them an offer for that course with us. 

On the other hand, students may feel the pressure of "wasting their ATAR" if they don't put a higher course as their first preference. Don't forget, ATAR cut-offs are indicative of demand for a course, not whether it is personally the best option for your child. Staying true to their passions is what's important. 

If your child has achieved an ATAR of 98+ they may also consider courses available via the Dalyell Scholars stream. This stream offers a range of enrichment opportunities for high-achieving students throughout their time at the University of Sydney. For more information visit the Dalyell Scholars stream webpage

2. My child's ATAR is lower than expected - what are their options?

The important thing to remember here is that a lower ATAR just means the pathway to your child's dream course might be a little different, and that's completely OK. Many students are in this position, and there are always options.

The first step is to seek advice on whether there are any alternative pathways options available to your child given their circumstances. 

The next step is to explore course options similar to their ideal course. Here, our courses with a fixed ATAR are a useful starting point because they indicate tangible options available to your child based on their ATAR. 

So which course should they choose? Our shared pool of more than 100 majors means that our students have the flexibility to take majors from across disciplines through a range of undergraduate degrees. That means that the commerce subjects available to a student enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws are exactly the same subjects available to any student who can take commerce subjects. 

After one year of full-time study, your child can apply to transfer into another course - where their university results would be taken into account and they can apply to have their subjects credited to their new degree. Many students gain access to their dream course this way. There is also the option of applying for a postgraduate degree after completing their undergraduate degree, for example the graduate-entry Juris Doctor (JD) law degree. 

3. They've got their ATAR but what if they still don't know what they want to do?

It's important here to come back to the original question - which subjects does your child enjoy and are most interested in?

One option to consider is a broader, liberal degree that gives them the flexibility to explore their interests once they've started university. Not only will this let them hone in on what they really love over the course of their degree, but will also equip them with broad skills to prepare them for a range of career options. 

Our undergraduate students have access to online Open Learning Environment (OLE) units to develop agile skills on a range of topics from design thinking to data analysis, entrepreneurship and more. They also have the opportunity to work on real-world interdisciplinary projects, which means they'll graduate with a degree as well as industry experience. A liberal degree is a good launching pad for a postgraduate degree - enabling them to pursue a specialisation or professional qualification on top of the broad foundation of their undergraduate degree.

Need more information? Come to Info Day 

For more advice and information relevant to your child's particular circumstances, we recommend coming along to Info Day this Saturday 16 December. Our academics, course advisers, and professional staff will be on hand to answer any questions you might have. Whether it's UAC preferences, ATAR cut-offs, admissions information, course options and more, you will gain personalised advice and any further information you might need to help your child make the right choice. Visit the Info Day website for more information.