Are you one of those people who stress so much over exams? Do you stay up until 2am writing out notes and highlighting textbooks? Drink Red Bull at night to stay awake and study, then end up watching a whole lot of Tik Toks and YouTube videos learning how to make your own wig? Then cram more studying in between the hours of 5am-7am.
Then I feel ya! I was there 8 years ago when I was doing HSC (to be honest I wasn’t watching Tik Tok because that wasn’t around yet, but if it was I for sure would have been on that). Only problem was that I was riddled with anxieties about being ‘dumb’ or never ‘going to amount to anything in life’. Can you imagine someone asking you in the middle of Year 11 with all sincerity behind it ‘why are you even in school?’, or showing up to school one day and being taken out of class to be told that ‘you are not smart enough for this class’ and to be moved to a different one. Not to mention, then do the walk of shame across the playground to the ‘less smart class’.
I was told time and time again during my high school life that I wasn’t smart, even though I tried my best. I even went to maths tutoring on a SATURDAY! I studied all night for tests and put (what felt like) 1 million hours of work into my HSC major practicals. I dedicated my life to my studies in Year 11 and 12 to prove these people wrong. I wanted to show them that they were wrong, that I’m not dumb and that I was underestimated.
You can only imagine my heartbreak and disappointment when I learnt that my final ATAR result was 54.0. It was at this point that I ALMOST believed these people and gave into my biggest fears, that maybe I am dumb.
8 years on I can very say that I am not ‘dumb’ and there is so much about me that the number 54 does not reflect.
SO! Here are my 3 C’s for what I believe an ATAR result can never tell you about someone.
I bet when you see 54 you wouldn’t think that I got a band 5 in art. For most of Year 11 and 12, I was actually ranked 2nd in the grade for Visual arts (I was beaten for second in the final exams, but I have gotten over it). I am a super creative person and have always managed to make a living off of creating things. Whether that’s being commissioned to make custom jewellery or now being a full-time florist and owning my own business – which I worked on the latest ‘Married at first sight’ weddings! In my opinion, it is so hard to grade someone’s artistic abilities. One person may love what you do and think its worth a 10/10 and another person will think is a 2 – it’s all subjective. If you are a fellow creative soul like me and find yourself frustrated that your grades do not reflect your skills, please know that after school those skills are valuable.
When I received that 54, never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would end up managing florist shops by the age of 18, start my own business at 21 and become a TAFE teacher by the age of 23. If you’re assuming that if you don’t get an ATAR of 80 or higher that your life is over – I am here to tell you that IT MOST CERTAINLY IS NOT!! (could I be any more passionate about this opinion?!) Life gives you opportunities and if you have your heart set on doing something or being someone, it WILL happen. It may not be the easiest or most conventional way, but if you take advantage of those opportunities when they arise, you will get there.
CARING FOR OTHERS
54 does not tell you that I love my family and my friends. It does not show you all of the afternoons after school moments that I took my nan to do her groceries. It also doesn’t show you every time that I gave up my seat to let an elderly person to sit on the bus, or when I would make Mum a tea every night or be on the phone with upset friends until all hours of the morning. That 54 does not reflect some of my favourite traits of myself. I am kind and caring for others and I am so much prouder of that then my HSC results. The best parts about you are usually not in a test at school. They are reflected through your friendships and relationships. You are not your exam results!
When you get your next exam results and if they are really good – well done! I am so happy for you. When you get your next exam results and they aren’t what you wanted, then that’s perfectly fine, also. You will never be defined by a mark. You WILL, however, be defined by what sort of person you are.
WRITTEN BY: ALEX COUPAR