The ATAR wait: Timely advice from Deakin Pathways and Psychology experts

Media release
15 December 2017

As nervous school leavers receive their ATAR rankings this week, a Deakin Psychology expert and student support staff have teamed up to offer timely advice for the next generation of tertiary students.

School of Psychology academic Dr Subhadra Evans said that whether students were stressed about what their result would be, or if they had received their ATAR and were disappointed with the ranking, some simple tools could help relieve their worry.

"We are often our own worst enemy when it comes to criticism, and students can be very, very hard on themselves," Dr Evans said.

"One method for reducing stress is 'mindful self-compassion' - thinking about how we would talk to someone we cared about who was going through a difficult time, and treating ourselves with the same compassion."

Dr Evans said exercise was also a proven method for reducing stress, and something as simple as a 30 minute walk around the block released chemicals in the brain that alleviate feelings of distress.

"Talking to someone is also good - speaking to someone that you trust, and particularly someone that is in a similar situation and dealing with similar issues, has proven to be of major benefit," she said.

"Students are under a lot of pressure to succeed, but part of stress management is putting things in perspective.

"Though of course that can sometimes be difficult to do, it's important to keep in mind that today's result is not the be-all and end-all - we have a lot of flexibility in study in Australia, and there are always other study options and pathways that are available."

Deakin Pathways Student Recruitment Manager Janine Kuster said she and her team would be working overtime this weekend and during the coming week, hosting events at Burwood and Geelong for prospective students to discuss their post-ATAR study options.

Ms Kuster said she and the other Deakin Pathways advisers were there to support students who didn't get the ATAR they were aiming for.

"First of all, take a breath - accept the situation, face it, and know that there is always a way to get into what you want to do at Deakin," she said.

"It doesn’t mean you can't get there, it just means you might have to go about it in a different way, so come and talk to us about what it is you want to do."

Ms Kuster also had advice for those who may have gotten a higher ATAR result than they were expecting.

"For those who got the result they were aiming for, or higher, it's important to check your preferences and make sure they still reflect what you want to do," she said.

"It could be worth re-evaluating your preferences, and you have until midday Wednesday, December 20, to change your mind.

"But one important thing to remember is that ATAR isn't like a gift voucher - you don't have to use it all up. If you got a higher score than you expected, that doesn't mean you have to throw out your original preferences and go with a difference course just because it has a higher entry requirement.

"If your passion is Arts, you don't have to push yourself into Law just because you got an ATAR in the 90s - it's much more important that you find a course that you can engage with in a field that you're going to be passionate about."

To speak with the Deakin Pathways team, call 1800 MY FUTURE (1800 6938 8873), or visit to start a live chat.

To speak with the Deakin Pathways team, call 1800 MY FUTURE (1800 6938 8873), or visit to start a live chat.

Key Fact

To speak with the Deakin Pathways team, call 1800 MY FUTURE (1800 6938 8873), or visit to start a live chat.

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