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

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 as much of a journey for parents as it is their children.

The moment when ATARs are released can be stressful and exciting. It is important to remember that your child's ATAR result is only an indication of what options are available to them at this point.

Our advice is to make an informed choice that remains 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?

If your child didn't put their dream course as their first preference, and it is now within reach, they may want to consider changing their preferences. Students may underestimate what ATAR they think they'll receive and place a course with a more reasonable ATAR as their first preference.

At the University of Sydney, most of our courses have a guaranteed ATAR to provide transparency and support students in making an informed decision. So, if your child achieves the required ATAR, placing this course as their first preference will guarantee them an offer.

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, the ATAR listed for a course only represents the lowest ATAR needed to receive an offer, and is indicative of demand, not whether it is the best option for your child. Staying true to their interests is what's important. 

If your child has achieved an ATAR of 98+, they may want to consider our high achievers program. The Dalyell Scholars stream offers a range of enrichment opportunities throughout their time at University.

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

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

The first step is to seek advice on whether there are any admission pathways available to your child. 

The next step is to explore course options similar to their dream course. Courses with a guaranteed 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 and Bachelor of Laws are 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 to another course and have their subjects credited. Many students gain access to their preferred course this way.

There is also the option of applying for a postgraduate degree after completing their undergraduate degree, for example, the graduate-entry master's in health

3. My child still doesn't know what they want to do?

It can be helpful in this situation to discuss what subjects they enjoy and what they have an interested in.

One option to consider is a 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 enjoy throughout 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 the Open Learning Environment to build diverse skills on a range of topics from emotional intelligence to quantum computing and entrepreneurship. They also have the opportunity to work on real-world interdisciplinary projects, which means they'll graduate with a degree and industry experience.

A liberal degree is a good launchpad for a postgraduate degree, which will enable 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 on Thursday 19 December.

Our academics, course advisers, and professional staff will be there to give your tailored course advice and answer any questions you have.

Last updated 5 November 2019
12 December 2017

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