Former Year 12 Student Says ‘You Are Not Defined By Your ATAR’

Anna Nguyen

Every year, more than 55,000 NSW Year 12 students undergo the stressful and sometimes daunting process that is the Higher School Certificate (HSC).

Anna Nguyen is currently studying computer programming as part of a BA and BSc at the Univeristy of Technology Sydney. Here, she writes a personal blog about why Year 12 students should not feel defined by their ATAR results.  

Having completed the HSC in 2014, I know there will be many out there who are feeling nervous and anxious as they count down the minutes until they can access their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) on Friday. And while most will be happy with the ATAR they receive, there will be a few, like me, who are surprised and disappointed with the rank they receive.

Having worked consistently throughout the year, I was expecting an ATAR above 75. But when I saw my ATAR, it was much lower than I expected and not enough to get into my preferred course. I remember trying to think if there was anything different I could have done but at the end of the day my low ATAR came down to the subjects I chose and how they had been scaled.

For many, the whole HSC process can be extremely daunting with a number of factors that can compound into a whirlwind of emotions.

A lot of the pressure I felt was what I put on myself to achieve an ATAR that would make my mum proud of me. I had focused so much on what others wanted me to achieve that the first thought that went through my mind when I got my ATAR was not one of joy but one of fear, trying to work out how I would explain my results to my family.

Anna Nguyen_1

Talking to my mum about my ATAR was a really emotional time, but it was made easier by knowing there were numerous pathways into university. Being able to explain that a UTS:INSEARCH diploma offered extra support and took me into the second year of a UTS degree without making my degree any longer made a difficult conversation with my mum achievable.

To those of you nervously waiting for your ATAR, the best advice I can offer is to remember that your ATAR is just a number. My ATAR didn’t represent who I am and it shouldn’t define you and what you can achieve. Remember #ImNotANumber.

The Carousel would like to thank Anna Nguyen for her article.

Written by Robyn Foyster

With over 30 years experience as a journalist and TV producer, Robyn Foyster is the owner and publisher of the lifestyle websites, and

Robyn was voted one of the 30 most powerful women in media at the 2015 B&T Women In Media Awards.

Previously, Robyn was the Publisher and Editor of Australia's three biggest flagship magazine brands - The Australian Women's Weekly, Woman's Day and New Idea.

Robyn won Editor of the Year at the 2007 Magazine of the Year Award and under her helm The Australian Women's Weekly won the inaugural 2008 Australian Magazine Award for Australia's best mass market magazine and New Idea won the MPA's coveted Magazine of the Year award.

She can be contacted on [email protected]


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