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La Trobe Business School

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A low ATAR doesn’t mean missing out on your dream course

If you’re reaching for the stars when it comes to finding your dream course, don’t let anything get in the way – not even an ATAR that’s lower than you’d hoped for. There are lots of options available to help get you into the course you want – you might just have to take a different road.

Each December, VCE students across the state wait anxiously to find out if all their hard work throughout high school has paid off. It doesn’t matter whether you log in online, get a text message or wait for snail mail, waiting for your ATAR results must rank as one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in a teen’s life.

And no wonder. Your ATAR is a culmination of incredibly hard work, determination and persistence. Some people are rewarded with a great result that propels them directly into their dream course at university. But for every person that gets into their desired course, there is another that has to step back, and reassess their planned career path.

Luke Scicluna works in the student recruitment team at La Trobe University, and while he recognises the benefits of getting a great ATAR score, he doesn’t see it as the be-all and end-all.

‘There’s a lot of pressure and expectation around the ATAR. I think there is merit to it when you’ve been at school for 13 years of your life, and you want to have a good send-off, but there are so many variables around ATAR. It’s totally understandable to not achieve the number you were expecting.’

While it can be incredibly deflating to miss out on the course you had set your hopes on, it’s important to have a plan B in place, well before you get your results.

What’s your plan B?

‘If you can’t get in the first instance there are other courses you can enrol in or subjects you can take which may lead you down the road toward your dream course,’ says Luke.

‘There are plenty of examples of students who might not have been able to enrol directly in the degree they were gunning for originally, but eventually find their way in.’

Changing preferences

After the VCE results and ATARs are released, you’ll have the opportunity to review your course preferences. Be sure to consider your folio presentations, feedback from interviews and any auditions, as well as your ATAR results when making changes.

You can change your preferences as many times as you like, up until the closing date. Find out all the important dates for 2017 and 2018 from the VTAC website.

What should you do if your ATAR is just a few points off your dream course? Luke suggests keeping the course as your number one preference. But if your ATAR is way off the mark, it’s time to shuffle those preferences and choose a different pathway course on your VTAC preference form instead.

It’s critical to do your research well before you submit your preferences. First of all, you need to make sure you meet all the prerequisites. Secondly, you need to check which course pathways offer the best chance to get you into the course you ultimately want.

If you need advice, talk to the experts. Luke refers to VTAC as the ‘source of truth’, and says it’s the place to get the most up-to-date information about all courses and requirements. If you need more, go to the university directly – La Trobe offers a range of different ways to connect and ask questions.

So don’t be shy. Make sure the next step is the right one for you and get an expert second opinion.

Pathway options

Pathways are like stepping-stones into your preferred course, and there’s lots of different options. The most common pathway is via a related course at your preferred university.

For example, if you missed out on a spot in physiotherapy, you can study a related course. If your marks are good – and there is a place available – you can apply to transfer across to physiotherapy in your second year of study. There are no guarantees, but these options mean the door isn’t completely closed if you don’t get in the first time.

Another popular pathway is to enrol at an alternative campus, then transfer. You’ll find that some of La Trobe’s regional campuses have equivalent courses with slightly lowered ATAR requirements.

That’s not a reflection of the quality of the course, explains Luke. ‘It just comes down to competitiveness and how many people want to get in.’ Transfers depend on your academic performance and places available in your desired course.

Even if you achieved an ATAR  that’s too low to enrol in an undergraduate degree, you have options. VET or TAFE pathways allow you to start your study in an officially recognised diploma, obtain the credit you need, and then transfer across to the course of your choice. TAFE and VET pathways also apply if you studied VCAL instead of VCE, or you don’t satisfy a prerequisite for a particular course.

‘If you achieve a good enough mark in that diploma, you may have credit officially recognised by the time you’re ready to study at La Trobe,’ explains Luke.

With so many pathway options, making your next move after receiving your ATAR can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to seek out as much advice as you can. While career teachers are a great resource within a school, Luke suggests future students should consider getting in touch with the university admissions team.

‘If you’re really interested in studying at La Trobe, organise a one-on-one consultation, because we have that up-to-date advice about which pathway would be best for the student.’

Book a one-on-one consultation to find out how you can get into your dream course.

This article was orginally published on NEST.

LBS hosts secondary school Dream it, Plan it, Pitch it competition, with students putting business ideas into action

21/7/16 Melbourne Business Showcase

Melbourne winner: ‘Bean here before?’

In July, La Trobe Business School proudly hosted the ‘Dream it, Plan it, Pitch It!” competition as part of La Trobe University’s Outreach Programme for secondary school students.  This is an important event, supported by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), through which LBS provides VCE students with opportunities to actively participate in entrepreneurial activities, experience university, connect with their peers, and meet with academics and industry professionals.

After dreaming up an idea for a business or product, either individually or in teams of two or three, business management students in secondary schools in Melbourne and Albury-Wodonga learnt how to outline, develop and complete a full business plan as part of the VCE curriculum. Complementing the year 11 VCE curriculum, La Trobe University’s ‘Dream it, Plan it, Pitch it! competition asked the business students to submit their completed business plans and pitch their ideas to groups of roving judges consisting of industry professionals and La Trobe University academics and students during a showcase event.
In Melbourne, this year’s winning initiative was a family friendly café by the name of ‘Bean here before?’ offering custumers family-oriented activities and free Wi-Fi. The second prize went to ‘XOXO Cosmetics’, an online platform to sell overseas make-up brands at a better price than they sell for in Australian retail.

This year’s winner in Albury-Wodonga focussed on beauty as well. Students pitched an idea called ‘Beneath the skin,’ a beauty tips forum that doubled as a mental health initiative by creating a safe environment for women to connect and seek guidance from each other. By selling monthly subscription beauty boxes, the organisations would be able to raise funds for the initiative.

The runner up was ‘Ask Hygiene’, where the students wanted to ensure that every primary and secondary school bathroom would be equipped with a vending machine stocked with sanitary items.

“We were delighted to see so many business ideas that focussed on the local community this year,” La Trobe University’s School Partnership Advisor Jenny Snelling said. “We had several student groups thinking up initiatives catering to more vulnerable groups in society like people disadvantaged by homelessness, or thinking of ways that families in their local community could meet up and connect.”

For students, the competition is a great opportunity to put theory into practice and learn how to identify a demand in their direct environment. One student pitched a business idea that saw him opening a retro-style barber shop, where men could go to get their hair cut, rent a suit, and get their shoes shined. Other students had completed full prototypes to strengthen their pitch. “It’s refreshing to see how these students choose to tackle a gap in the market and use their creative imagination to bring the idea to life,” Jenny Snelling said.

For competing students, the competition allows them to peak behind the veil of the business world and be exposed to an industry they might want to work in once they graduate: “The ‘Dream it, Plan it, Pitch it’ program delivered by La Trobe University provided a fantastic opportunity for our students to experience the world of business and all that a career in business may offer,” high school teacher Alison Leahy said. “Our students were inspired and challenged as they created ideas, developed business plans, worked with mentors and pitched and presented their finished products and services.  We really appreciate all the support and mentorship provided and highly recommend participation in this program to other schools.”

“The day really brought the theory to life,” a Melbourne teacher commented. “Students were able to apply their skill and knowledge in a practical manner that made the subject relevant and enjoyable.”

For students, the opportunity was engaging if not a little nerve-racking: “Needless to say we were all very nervous and excited, as we didn’t know what to expect on the day. We were very impressed by the efforts of the other students from the other schools involved in the program!”

“I thought this was a great experience and I’m so happy that I got the chance to participate in it,” Business Management student Katelyn Hart said. “I learnt all the steps you are supposed to go through to make your own business; including all the elements you have to think about. Going into this planning process, I was under the impression that it wouldn’t be that difficult. However, because of the amount of work you have to put in, it was somewhat harder than I expected. But I would still recommend this ‘Dream it, Plan it, Pitch it’ program to future years!”

Business Management Student Steph Lauria also saw it as a chance to connect with her peers: “It was a great opportunity to share my passion for my business with others, as well as seeing other student’s business ideas and how they put their ideas into action,” she commented.

LBS is already looking forward to the 2017 competition and would to thank Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) for their generous support this year.


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