I didn't get an ATAR, and now I'm studying law at one of the best universities

The Careers Department

The Careers Department

Oct 15, 2019 — 4 mins read

Ashleigh, 23, currently studying at The University of New South Wales - an extract from The Careers Department.

This post is brought to you by The Careers Department, the tool to help you make the move from high school to beyond. For anyone who is trying to make a study or career choice, put down your course guide for now and join The Careers Department to find more stories like this, course comparisons, and real life work experiences. To join visit www.thecareersdepartment.com

There’s no such thing as a wrong turn, just a new way.

I didn't get an ATAR from school. I left in year 10 and now I'm studying law at one of the best universities that you can possibly go to.

How did I get here?

In high school I would describe myself as a rebellious teenager. I'd say that I was a little bit of a lazy student. I was lucky in a way that I could put in minimal effort and get pretty average grades.

I wasn't really keen on being at school and doing what I was told all the time. So, I decided that I wanted to leave and pursue a career in hairdressing. I was able to complete my school-based apprenticeship while at school and then move into a full time apprenticeship after that.

After I finished my apprenticeship though, I realised that there was something that I was missing, that I wasn’t quite done and I thought perhaps it’s because I didn't do my HSC, I might've just taken the shortcut out and I hadn't actually done what I was supposed to be doing, for me anyway.

So I then enrolled with TAFE again, and enrolled into my Tertiary Preparation Certificate - a Certificate III and IV. It was about a week into that, when I realised that I wanted to go to university and study law.

I think there was a time where we had to fill out this questionnaire of what sort of career would suit us and what that career enrolled. I remember I was reading the job details of being a barrister and I thought, "Yeah, I want to do that."

Doing the TPC was a really different experience to how I found studying at school. Doing the Certificate III was very relevant to real life learnings and things that I had not had the opportunity to learn at school. Like how to write a resume properly, even simple things like how to reference, which I had not done at school either. The Certificate IV, which was more like your HSC-based style studying - that was when things started to get a bit harder and I was learning in a more traditionally academic style.

I remember in Year 10, there was my half yearly exam, and I failed the calculus exam quite significantly. But then having that opportunity to leave school and grow, and come back and be there when I wanted to be - I think I ended up finishing my TPC Certificate IV with about 92% in my final exam.

It gives you a huge, huge opportunity to turn things around if you're not academically talented or you're just not quite invested in your studies - you can come back and you can do it later.

When I decided I wanted to go through TAFE and study more at university, the teachers were so excited - they looked into everything that I needed to do, told me I needed to apply through UAC and recommended which subjects I needed to do, which would actually help me in getting into law and how to study. It was an entirely different experience to when I was at school – both I and my teachers were so excited and energised.

I would say to anyone who's really stressed and thinks that their ATAR is everything, don't be stressed. I didn't get an ATAR from school. I was once a hairdresser who left in Year 10 and now I'm studying law at one of the best universities that you can possibly go to. Not that either is better or worse than the other, they’re just different paths, and your path can change so quickly – so what I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter if you’re unsure of what to do at the moment. At the moment, I think I want to head into being a Crown Prosecutor, but who knows? That's always subject to change too, and that’s ok.

This post is brought to you by The Careers Department, the tool to help you make the move from high school to beyond. For anyone who is trying to make a study or career choice, put down your course guide for now and join The Careers Department to find more stories like this, course comparisons, and real life work experiences. To join visit www.thecareersdepartment.com

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