What if I don’t get the ATAR I need…

The lead-up to receiving your results can be just as stressful as exams themselves! You spend weeks thinking about the outcome – working yourself up and stressing yourself out. Then you finally hear your phone buzz:

Your ATAR is here.

But what happens if my ATAR results aren’t what I wanted? What if I get a low ATAR that’s not enough for the course I was hoping to get into? What if I’ve ruined my whole life because I didn’t study hard enough and I put too much pressure on myself and now I’ll never go to uni and I’m a total failure?!?!

OK, first things first. Time for a reality check.

Your ATAR is not the be-all and end-all. There is so much more to you (and your future) than your Year 12 results. Plenty of people have gone on to do epic things without sky-high ATAR results.

At Charles Sturt University, we know that you’re more than just a number. Here’s four ways to cope with disappointing Year 12 results – and how to put your next move in place.

Don’t let your ATAR results define you

When everything hits the fan, it’s important to keep perspective.

We get it – it’s a hard pill to swallow. You’ve worked hard for the past few years to achieve your goals. And it doesn’t help that you might have felt pressure from all angles – teachers, parents, even yourself!

But, as we mentioned, your results don’t define you. Year 12 results are not the only road to achievement – there are plenty of pathways to get you where you want to go in life.

The main things that will help you achieve your career goals are your passion, energy and willingness to learn. You’ve got this – don’t let one small hiccup define you.

Research admission pathways

We know that not everyone follows the same path through life – and the same goes for getting into university.

That’s why we’ve developed a range of admission pathways to help you get your degree, even if you don’t get into your preferred course straight away.

Our range of access schemes and admission programs include:

  • early offer – UAC Schools Recommendation Scheme
  • transition from TAFE
  • general degrees
  • Connections – First Nations Direct Entry Program
  • Elite Athlete Program

Also, we’ve got a couple of courses that can get you prepped for uni study and give you guaranteed entry into most of our undergraduate degrees! The Diploma of General Studies will give you entry to most undergraduate courses in education, creative industries, computer science and IT. For entry into other bachelor’s degrees, we have the Charles Sturt University Pathway Course. And having completed your course, when you do make that step into your degree, you’ll know the ropes and be full of confidence.

And if you’re in rural or regional Australia, we’ve got more good news!

We know sometimes rural and regional schools don’t have the same advantages as city schools. So we developed the Regional Location Adjustment Scheme. The scheme will automatically adjust your selection rank by five points, so you have a greater chance of landing your dream course.

Have a back-up plan

When it comes to deciding on your future career you should definitely have a Plan A, and throw everything you have at it. But you should also have a Plan B – and maybe even a C and D too. Because really, there are endless paths that will lead you to a fabulous life.

So, if your ATAR isn’t where you’d like it to be, you could check out other courses that you might be interested in that have lower entry requirements. Explore your options!

Communicate with loved ones about your ATAR results

It’s really important to communicate with those around you if you’re feeling down – especially your family, friends, teachers and mentors. This is a great way to get things off your chest, and the people close to you can help you explore other options too.

We’re here to help


  • not everyone’s journey is the same
  • success comes in different forms
  • sometimes the best thing you can do is reach out.

We can help you take your next steps. All you need to do is contact our friendly team and we can chat through your options – and find the right path for you.