teens

These women got an 'average' mark in their Year 12 exams. Here's what their lives look like now.

In just a few weeks’ time, students from all around Australia will receive their final Year 12 mark.

After months of stress, studying, sleepless nights and university applications, students will be presented with a number – essentially a ranking for students who wish to go to university.

Anyone who has been there knows what it’s like. It’s an incredibly overwhelming time. It’s stressful, it’s tense and the pressure can feel all-consuming.

And while some students will find themselves hitting their goals when they receive their results, others will be disappointed.

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They might have achieved a less-than-perfect mark compared to what they were expecting. Or they might have ‘failed’, according to ranking standards.

But what happens to these students a few years down the track?

Does your final Year 12 mark really determine your future? (Not really).

Do their lives turn out differently to the ‘High Achievers’?

We spoke to six women who achieved a less-than-perfect score in their Year 12 exams and asked them what their lives look like now.

Gabby

HSC results 2019
Gabby. Image: Supplied.
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What mark did you get in your Year 12 exams?

My ATAR was about 36.5.

Was it what you expected?

I didn't expect anything. I literally didn't study. I barely passed my assignments so I really wasn't that shocked. It did throw me a little bit but I was over it within five minutes.

What did you choose to study?

I chose to go to university to study Agricultural Business.

What does your life look like now?

My life is now... pretty boring. I currently work on a potato farm but I'm looking at starting a career in agricultural business in the near future.

Do you have any words of wisdom for students awaiting their final results?

My advice is don't stress if it's not the score you wanted to get into your course. There are loads of different pathways – you can take a year off and apply as a mature age student, there are three rounds of offers, you can do a different course than the one you originally chose and transfer courses later – there's always another way into university.

Gap years also work a treat – it's a good time to give yourself a break, especially for those who worked super hard for exams, stressed out a lot or spent most of their time studying.

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Sarah

What mark did you get in your Year 12 exams?

I don't remember my mark exactly but I think it was in the 30s.

Was it what you expected?

It was not what I had expected as I had actually passed all my exams and assessments.

What did you choose to study?

I was undecided about what I wanted to do at first. I looked at teaching, which seemed like as good an option as any, but I wasn't invested. Instead, I went into customer service.

At 26 years old, with my one-year-old on my lap and 18 weeks pregnant with my second baby (who passed a fortnight later), I watched my grandmother, who was fiercely independent until her stroke at 87, have a mini mental assessment with an occupational therapist and I thought: "I could do that."

The more I looked into it, the more I fell in love with occupational therapy and especially restoring independence to those who have lost it. I felt like I could make a difference in people's day to day lives. I did the intensive Open Foundation course through University of Newcastle, got an ATAR of 90, got into occupational therapy and then took a year off after finding out I was pregnant with my daughter.

What does your life look like now?

My life is now myself and my two kids – an eight-year-old and a five-year-old. I'm studying full time, working a couple of hours a week, and I'm excited about the idea of a career in occupational therapy.

Looking back, if I'd gone straight to university, I would never have met my children’s father, I wouldn't have opened up my world mentally and holistically, I wouldn't have had my amazing children, I wouldn't have met my amazing friends, and I wouldn't have come across occupational therapy or been able to spend the last few months of my grandmother's life as involved as I was with her.

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Do you have any words of wisdom for students awaiting their final results?

It's okay if things don't work out the way you expect, you're not expected to know what you want to do for the rest of your life and your future doesn't hang on this mark. If you really want it, there are other ways to get it if you look hard enough. The world is a really exciting place and you learn things out there that you might not come across in university.

Nathalie

HSC results 2019
Nathalie. Image: Supplied.

What mark did you get in your Year 12 exams?

I did my HSC in the early 90s and got less than 50 per cent.

Was it what you expected?

It was what I expected because I was far too busy enjoying my teens to consider studying very much. I did think I would cruise through sufficiently enough to get into university... but I didn't.

What did you choose to study?

I finally settled on studying Human Resources Management through TAFE as the cost of university was ridiculous and I thought I could get recognition of prior learning at university and complete honours if I needed to.

Do you have any words of wisdom for students awaiting their final results?

I actually recruit graduates from school, TAFE and university now. The magic number of results or their qualification is actually the last thing I look for when hiring people. This is because it only tells me how someone performed under criteria that they may never experience in their working life. People can be taught any skill and hold any information if given the right circumstances. So how well someone retained information for an exam isn't helpful to me because they will always have accessible information in the workplace.

My best advice is to enjoy your youth and freedom. Do what makes you happy. It is all so meaningless that magic mark – you'll find your purpose eventually.

By the time you reach life milestones like marriage, children and middle age, look around you. You'll find that no one in your circle has an enviable life... it's just not possible to have the great career, great marriage and kids and be financially comfortable. You get to pick one or two of those things and life will come and stir it all up again.

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The only important thing in life is your relationships. They will end up being the measure of the quality of your life. It doesn't matter what job you do, you will be rich in social connections. Find people who will pick you up at the airport, help you move house and sleep over when you are sad and you will be deemed successful.

Louise

What mark did you get in your Year 12 exams?

I ended up with an OP (Overall Position) of 17.

Was it what you expected?

I ended up with mainly Cs at school. I was lazy and I did the bare minimum to pass. If I enjoyed a topic, I did well and scored near-perfect marks. I probably should have read fewer novels and more textbooks though.

What did you choose to study?

I asked for special consideration to get into university, which I received. I ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Politics and International Relations. I've gone on to do a Graduate Certificate in Organised Crime, a Diploma of Paramedical Science, a Bachelor of Nursing and I'm now studying a Master of Disaster Health Care.

What does your life look like now?

I wanted to be a diplomat, an etiquette consultant or an aide-de-camp in the navy. I am none of those things. Although I do own a large collection of vintage etiquette and deportment books.

Do you have any words of wisdom for students awaiting their final results?

I coasted through school and that did have an impact on what I could study and my attitude to studying. But university is not the be all and end all of life. Who or what you are at school does not and will not define you through your entire life. Life is not a direct path. You adjust for what lies before you.

I know that I could have done better, earned more and been successful. But who determines what success is? I have a house and a job. Some don’t, so am I successful? I couldn’t have children, but am I a failure? Your success should not be measured against others.

Emma

HSC results 2019
Emma. Image: Supplied.

What mark did you get in your Year 12 exams?

My ATAR was 68.7.

Was it what you expected?

I didn't expect it at all. My average was around 80 from memory, so getting that ATAR was a big shock.

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What did you choose to study?

I studied a Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Health).

What does your life look like now?

Life looks awesome. I have a great career in a regional town with such varied work and a lot of different experiences. That being said, eligible men in regional or remote Australia is a little limited so I don't have a partner. One would be great if they came along but I don't regret any of the decisions I made to get to here.

Do you have any words of wisdom for students awaiting their final results?

Don't stress, there are so many different paths. I actually think stress reduces the amount you're able to retain for exams and that was certainly the case for me.

If you're unsure, don't go straight to university – have a year off, travel, earn a bit of money, you'll be much clearer about what you want to do and if university is for you. University is not for everyone and TAFE courses and trades are great as well. I do think it's important though to get some sort of qualification through TAFE or university though. You may never use it or you may go down a different route but it's a back up, which is so important.

Since joining the workforce, no one has ever commented on my school marks or not hired me because I only passed chemistry or alternatively hired me because I got a High Distinction in epidemiology.

Likewise, as someone who has done a lot of recruitment, I've never once looked at their university marks or where they went.

The day you start university, starting working or volunteering in the field you're interested in. Everyone going for the job you're going for has the piece of paper, it's any experience you have and your ability to interview that will or won't get you the job. That is what I wish someone had told me!

Shannan

What mark did you get in your Year 12 exams?

I didn't complete Year 10, let alone Year 12!

What did you choose to study?

Instead of attending school, I had some time off as I was very ill. After that, I did some short TAFE courses in fitness and sport. These got me into university at the same time that I would have if I had stayed at school. I got into an education and science degree as I wanted to be a teacher to provide a better experience for students like myself.

What does your life look like now?

I moved away from teaching and focused on sports science. This led to a career in government where I am now a senior executive and have been for many years.

Do you have any words of wisdom for students awaiting their final results?

Traditional school pathways are only one way, not the only way. You need to ask questions about what the alternatives are and do your own research to look for outside-the-box solutions.

What you want to do now may not be what you choose to do in 10 years so be open to all possibilities.

Were you happy with your year 12 results? Tell us in the comments below.

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