ATAR Stories Career path and tips

Can I get into uni without an ATAR?

get into uni without an atar
Written by Jourdan R

Here is my story get into uni without an ATAR.

Personally, I struggled a lot with self esteem and friendship issues when I was in year 11 and 12 , as well as generally not being motivated to study. Understandably, my performance in school dropped and my academic grades dropped drastically.

When HSC rolled around I began to stress more and more about what I was going to do post high school. All of my interests were in fields that required a university degree and I knew I wasn’t getting a high ATAR – if any at all. Although I was highly convinced that these weren’t going to be a realistic option for me, I tried to focus on finding other options – full time jobs to pass the time before I could apply as a mature age student, tafe and diploma courses to contribute towards getting accepted into university the following year and other alternative entry pathways.

Still, I attended the universities open day, learnt about all the different options for the fields I was interested in and submitted my application into two Bachelors degrees at Western Sydney University.

My achieved ATAR : 49.85

How did I get into uni without an ATAR?

Western Sydney University offers a diploma program through their Nirimba campus “The College” for people who achieve low or no ATAR but still want to attend or get into uni.

With an ATAR of 55 or above the course takes 1 year

With an ATAR below 55 or NO ATAR the course takes 1.5 years

However, 8 weeks out from the ATAR release date, Western Sydney University offers a guaranteed entry program – which I submitted my name for. This means that you are guaranteed to get into either the Bachelors course or 1 year Diploma Course regardless of a low ATAR or mystery mark.

So even when my ATAR was below 55 I was offered a place in the 1 Year Diploma of Science course, that branches immediately into my second year of my course of preference – a double Bachelor of Natural Science and Zoology.

Now, I am starting my second year at Western, at the Hawkesbury campus and am enrolled 2nd year of my double Bachelors degree at the University.

My Advice for Current Students

Strive hard to achieve the best you can in your HSC, it feels good to see great results. But don’t stress, a high ATAR doesn’t make you a better person, or mean you’re going to have an excellent academic life at university (its very different to high school) and a flourishing career immediately after graduation. Having a low ATAR doesn’t make you dumb or prevent you from being able to get into the career path you most desire.

Alternatives to Getting Into University with a low ATAR or without an ATAR

  • Alternative Pathway To University – Western Sydney University College

With an ATAR of 55 or above this course takes 1 year

With an ATAR below 55 or NO ATAR this course takes 1.5 years.

Although this is essentially a diploma program you do University level units and get to choose electives relative to your desired bachelor course. Also, unlike doing a tafe course or a diploma course elsewhere, after completing your diploma at the college you transition immediately into the second year of your desired Bachelors Course at the University, you can also transition into another university if you have achieved a high enough GPA from your diploma.

  • Alternative Pathway To University – UTS InSearch Program 

Similar to Western Sydneys College Diploma Courses, UTS offers their own course to those who received no, or low ATAR. They offer one year diploma programs that also branch you into the second year of your University degree.

  • Alternative Pathway To University – Indigenous Entry

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can apply for alternative entry into their courses at every university in Australia. They are tested on their basic English and Mathematics skills and then offered a place in their course (or similar) based on the results achieved in this exam.

All universities also have alternative pathways and entry schemes for students who:

  • Have experienced long-term hardship that has affected their academic performance in preliminary and HSC years.
  • Are or were Elite Athletes of Performers with a training and competitive schedule that affected their academic results.
  • Have either suffered with financial disadvantages or attend an identified “low socioeconomic” high school
  • Have completed a diploma or schooling/training that relates directly to their chosen course.
  • Have devoted a considerable amount of time to community service, engagement and leadership programs or volunteer work, supported by a school recommendation and proven academic excellence

Universities also award extra ATAR points when you :

  • Live within a certain radius of the University
  • Achieved academic excellence in a course that relates directly to your preferred course

Author: Jourdan R

Leave a Comment