That was my ATAR score.
When I first saw the number, my dad was with me and he immediately hugged and congratulated me. My final year of school was a bit of a struggle for me so this score was something I was ecstatic about. It wasn't until later that day at a congratulatory tea hosted by my highschool did I realise that my ATAR score perhaps wasn't something to feel proud of.
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When the head of my year group asked me if I was willing to share my score with her, I proudly (and loudly) said "71.7". Immediate silence. She asked me if I was okay and requested that I make an appointment with the school's career counsellor. Bit dramatic I know, but at the time I went into straight panic mode.
Thankfully, I had extremely supportive parents who helped me realise my strengths and laid out the unspoken facts about how Australia's education system is set up in a very specific way which isn't for everyone.
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Here are some of the things they told me that still ring true to this day:
Not everyone can memorise 8000 words.
First and foremost, we need to acknowledge that not everyone's talents and learning abilities are showcased in a traditional classroom setting. The education system tends to favour certain types of learners – those who excel in memorisation. We were taught to memorise every single essay and answer, and shape them to suit the questions that were given to us. It's a skill that the higher education system rewards. It's important to note that not everyone can memorise four essays per exam. It doesn't mean that those who don't perform well in this environment lack intelligence or potential.