My child came up short on the ATAR. Now what?

Woman and daughter sitting on stairs

Your Year 12 student receives their long-awaited ATAR and it’s not the score anyone wanted. It might feel like the end of the world to your child – and to you. So what do you do now?

There are plenty of ways for high school students to apply to university without an ATAR. Chances are, the long-term impact to your child’s career planning will be minimal.

First of all, don’t consider this a failure. Your child hasn’t failed at high school or university. The only thing that’s happened is they won’t get into university using the most direct route. No one cares how your child started university, especially not any future employer. No job interview will ever have questions about grades on specific exams – especially high school exams. Encourage your child to explore other avenues to qualifying for university. Explain the importance of resiliency and how this is a normal step for work in the future.

Depending on your child’s strengths, interests, and career goals, they can apply to complete a course that helps them catch up or gives them the foundation they need to be a successful uni student. Murdoch has a number of enabling courses and other pathways to university admission. Some of them are designed to fill a gap over a couple of weeks and others may extend to a year. The end result is your Year 12 student can fulfil a high school dream of applying to university regardless of their ATAR. There are numerous opportunities for recent high school graduates to take other pathways to uni.

How to apply to university in Western Australia

Year 12 students can apply for university through TISC (Tertiary Institutions Service Centre). Applying to university through TISC can be broken down into five simple steps:

  1. Register at the TISC website. Make sure to get your WACE number from your school before you start.
  2. Select six career preferences and rank them in order of desirability. (Confused? Find out more about choosing TISC preferences.)
  3. Complete your online application.
  4. Submit the supporting documents listed on the application.
  5. Wait for your TISC email confirmation. 

Murdoch's Year 12 Early Offer Program

If your teen is graduating from Year 12 this year, they can apply to study at Murdoch via our Year 12 Early Offer program using their Year 11 ATAR subject results, Year 12 mid-year ATAR subject results, or by identifying that they are on a recognised pathway to meet entry to Murdoch, for example through studying a Certificate IV or an enabling program. This means your teen can be offered a place at Murdoch, with the condition that they either complete Year 12 (for ATAR students) or another approved pathway (for non-ATAR students). 

Enabling courses at Murdoch University

If your high school student came up short on the score they wanted or needed to get into a specific program, there are a number of other options for university admission. These enabling courses are free and include:

  • OnTrack Flex — OnTrack Flex is a flexible and supportive program for people who aspire to complete a university degree, but do not qualify for direct entry into Murdoch University.
  • OnTrack Sprint — an intensive 4-week program for students who have recently completed Year 12 and aspire to complete a university degree, but do not qualify for direct entry into Murdoch University.
  • K-Track is a 14-week course to help Indigenous students develop the skills needed to succeed at university.

Media portfolio admission

If your Year 12 student has an interest in the arts, encourage them to consider a media portfolio pathway. This allows them to demonstrate capability for coursework based on past creative endeavours. This might be an especially attractive choice for an independent teenager. Creative portfolios are accepted for entry into the following majors:

Find out more about our media portfolio pathway.

Portfolio entry

If your Year 12 student has a strong pass in at least one Year 12 subject directly related to their desired course of study, or significant demonstrated ability, learning, and motivation via extra-curricular activities directly related to their desired course, they may be eligible to apply through our portfolio entry pathway. They'll just need to complete their Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) (or equivalent from interstate), meet our English language requirements, and get a letter of endorsement from their school. 

Find out more about portfolio entry.

It’s not too late for your teen to explore their options into university, get in touch with our Student Services team to chat through the options available to your Year 12 student.

Posted on:

22 Mar 2023

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