Lower ATAR than desired? No worries.

By ATAR Notes in HSC
13th of November 2017


For Issy, high school life began at a selective school – where the pressure was running high, right from year 7. “Fast-paced academia wasn’t really my jam” admits Issy. She decided to transfer to a public school, where she enjoyed a more relaxed approach to study, and more time for leisure.

But like many students, Issy found herself struggling for motivation. “I had too much fun with my friends, and became totally overwhelmed” recalls Issy, and as a result, she ended up with a lower ATAR. Had the door to Issy’s future been slammed shut?

Fast forward to 2017, where Issy is in her third year at Swinburne University, studying Psychological Sciences. Her goal is to become a clinical psychologist, and she won’t let anything – especially her ATAR – stand in the way.



After her year 12 experience, uni was the last thing on Issy’s mind. Instead, she took two gap years to travel the world, and to find out where her passions lay.

In fact, Issy’s time away gave her a mental reboot – it rekindled her interest in academia, and restored her motivation to study. Due to her lower ATAR, Issy expected to have limited options, but she quickly discovered Open Universities Australia (OUA), and was surprised at the number of degrees and single subjects that were available to her.

With the help of an OUA Student Advisor, Issy was able to select the perfect subjects for her, which had no entry requirements. In completing these subjects, Issy became eligible for the full degree program she had her eyes on – a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Culture) with Curtin University.



The flexibility provided by OUA was really important for Issy. She began with single subjects – easing the transition from no study to tertiary study, and from a real classroom to an online classroom. It also meant she could work as much as needed, picking up shifts wherever she could to pay off those lingering travel debts.

Single subjects were the perfect way for Issy to try a range of study areas without being locked into a full degree. What’s more – doing this through OUA meant that Issy wasn’t limited to one university. She could enrol in single subjects (see here) from different universities across Australia.

After studying a subject in psychology, Issy discovered a passion for human behaviour, which led her to transfer over to the Bachelor of Psychological Sciences at Swinburne University, again through OUA. “The coursework wasn’t an effort because I was so interested in learning about it” Issy says with a smile. Issy started the degree online, but when she moved to Melbourne, it made sense to continue her degree on-campus at Swinburne.



Issy is now in her third year of the Bachelor of Psychological Sciences at Swinburne. Next, she plans to do her Honours, and then move on to her Masters. Issy has gone from feeling disillusioned by academia, to aiming for the peak of higher education.

If you don’t get the results you’re hoping for – or you put getting a degree on hold – know that it’s not impossible, and never too late to start uni. OUA can help you find the right degree for you and guide you from start to finish. You’ll graduate with exactly the same degree as on-campus students, but it will be on your terms.


Explore your options at Alternatively, you can call a friendly Student Advisor on 13 OPEN.


… and keep your eyes peeled for part two of Issy’s story!