Photo: Elizabeth Fullerton
Unfortunately, there is a lot of angst surrounding ATAR scores. Even in the early years at high school, students discuss how to get a high ATAR score. Worrying about an ATAR can sometimes even prevent teenagers from doing their best at school.
It is vital that parents help their teenagers put the ATAR issue into perspective. Here are some important messages parents can give to help their teenagers cope with the hype surrounding ATAR scores…
“An ATAR score cannot destroy your life!”
Make it clear that you do not see the final year at school as the most important year in your teen’s whole life and you certainly do not see the ATAR score as a life-threatening and life-altering score. Life will go on regardless of the ATAR achieved.
“Let’s investigate lots of pathways into your course and career area of choice.”
Every student should be aware of attractive courses that do not require high ATAR scores. This takes away the pressure to get a high ATAR. There are courses at TAFE that lead directly into great degrees. There are undergraduate university courses that can be topped up with post-graduate study to enter professions such as Law, Medicine, Teaching and Physiotherapy. Parents can help teenagers investigate these options.
“Our life should not be massively changed due to this final year of study.”
Maintaining the status quo maintains a sense of security and stability. Family responsibilities should continue. If you exempt your teen from duties helping around the home this makes the year appear overly important and can even increase stress. If having meals together is a part of your family, continue this.
“Time Out is time well spent.”
Teenagers should maintain interests and even part-time employment in the final year at school. These can be a wonderful break from studies and an opportunity to relax and re-charge energy. Discourage your teen from giving up that part-time job, sport, and all other previously loved activities.
“I’ll be happy if you do your best.”
Many parents say this, but what is important is really meaning it. You will increase the pressure on your teenager if you secretly dread him not getting a high ATAR. You must believe that he really can move from TAFE to university. He really can become a lawyer even if he just scrapes into an undergraduate degree in Commerce or Arts. But he may collapse under the stress if he is scared about disappointing you. Send the message that your love is unconditional.
If you believe that your teenager is scared about the approaching ATAR, contact the Careers Counsellor at her school. This person will help your teenager find those back-up courses that do not require a high ATAR, yet they lead on to your teenager’s dream course or dream career.