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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.

La Trobe Business School experts change lives in Papua New Guinea

Emma Sherry La Trobe Business School Papua New Guinea

The NRL-run League Bilong Laif (League for Life) program in Papua New Guinea is positively changing the lives of participants, according to an evaluation by the Centre for Sport and Social Impact at La Trobe University.

Experts from La Trobe recently returned from a visit to PNG to assess the impact of League Bilong Laif, a sport-for-development program that runs in schools and promotes messages about respect and the importance of education for all Papua New Guineans. The program is funded by the Australian government and delivered by a team of Papua New Guinean NRL staff in four regions.

“We are starting to see that League Bilong Laif is more than just a schools program and can impact change for females, males and people with disabilities of all ages and in all regions”

“We are starting to see that League Bilong Laif is more than just a schools program and can impact change for females, males and people with disabilities of all ages and in all regions” says NRL Pacific Program Manager John Wilson, who travelled with the La Trobe review team to Port Moresby, Eastern Highlands Province, East New Britain Province, and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

“The NRL PNG team under the management of Mark Mom are doing a great job. We are building awareness that rugby league is not just a sport through delivering our positive education and respect messages in each community that will ultimately define the future of the program. The team is also delivering the program in sign language to make it more accessible” said Mr Wilson.

In addition, research found that participating in the League Bilong Laif program provides children with an opportunity to engage with education in a meaningful way, and that the program reinforces the message of gender equality through female NRL PNG staff, who are seen as role models and strong women.

Reflecting on his visit, Mr Wilson said PNG was full of great people that were looking for ways to contribute to their communities for a better tomorrow. “League Bilong Laif is a great platform for our staff to give back. In each region that we visited, the staff presented new opportunities for me to explore the cultural and logistical differences that affect the programs we deliver every day,” he said.

The research has found that the impact of the program extends beyond participating children, with preliminary findings suggesting positive change for program staff and broader communities, through partnerships with PNG and international charities, and community outreach programs.

Education specialists have been involved from the initial stages to establish and review the LBL program to ensure quality delivery of the program with desired outcomes. Review team member and sports management specialist Dr. Emma Sherry said they monitor education and gender equality outcomes through surveys and interviews with teachers and NRL PNG staff, stories of change with children, and via in-depth in-country interviews with program funders and key stakeholders.  By utilising these tools, the review team has sought to identify changes in attitude, behaviour and the impact of these on the participants, their school and community.

Dr. Sherry stated that the LBL program had grown exponentially since its inception three years ago, and the success of employing full-time staff, reaching out to dozens of schools, hundreds of teachers and many thousands of children is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the staff in both PNG and Australia.

“During the pilot phase, the program had been refined and is now being replicated across the Pacific [Fiji, Samoa and Tonga] as an example of how to actively engage children and their communities in education” she said.

League Bilong Laif is managed through a three-way partnership between the Australian Government, the PNG Government (represented by the National Department of Education) and the NRL. The program is supported by the Autonomous Bougainville Government Department of Education, the PNG Rugby Football League (PNGRFL), the University of PNG and the PNG National Sports Institute.

This article awas originally published on NRL.com

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