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More Than Your ATAR: Where To Start

By July 21, 2021October 5th, 2021No Comments

For many students, and especially rural and regional students, the decision about what to do after school can be extremely daunting. The choices seem endless but at CEF, we believe that even thinking about including education in your future is a great place to start.

Over the next few weeks, we will explore all the different options there are in our ‘More Than Your ATAR’ series.

We know that who you are, what you are capable of and what you want to do is shaped by so much more more than exam results.


Keep in mind that so much has changed in Australia and the world throughout the couple of years. Drought. Bushfires. Flooding. COVID-19. Mouse plague.

It seems like the hits just keep coming, and the effects are going to be felt long after the initial challenges ease.

It’s changed your education and the way you have been able to study. Remember that, and be proud of what you have achieved despite all the uncertainty around you.


There are a number of things you can do after school, and the right choice will be different for each person:

  • University
  • Apprenticeship or traineeship
  • TAFE/VET Sector
  • Employment
  • Gap year
  • Other (maybe you are a sportsperson, muso or actor!)

Whatever you decide, it means you are making a commitment, so it should be something you are passionate about!

If it doesn’t excite you and get you thinking, and doesn’t make you keen to get out of bed in the morning, then it’s probably not for you.

Ask yourself:
• What are you good at?
• What school subjects do you like?
• What are your interests outside of school?

“Thoroughly research into a career of your interest and figure out how you can achieve that, whether it is through a degree or a TAFE course. Picking something that interests you is the most important thing as this will make the course easier for you.”


“Don’t choose your degree based on what your teachers or parents might think of you, and don’t shy away from something because it might be too hard (or even too easy) – do it simply based on where your interests and passions lie!”

  • Talk to your teachers, tutors, careers advisor and family
  • Think what career you’d like and what jobs are available
  • Attend university open days – virtual or in person – and local careers expos
  • Chat with a Facebook bot via Messenger
  • Don’t try to please anyone else
  • If you still aren’t sure, don’t rush!

If you keep asking yourself the questions above – and answer then honestly – we’re pretty confident that you will feel happier and more comfortable with the decision you make.

If you are still stuck, try our personality quiz to get some ideas!


Honestly, it is ok to change your mind, or to discover the path your have started just isn’t for you.

It’s actually a great life lesson!

Often, you learn the most when you think you have made a ‘mistake, or things don’t turn out the way you planned. It encourages you to reflect, teaches you things about yourself you probably didn’t know and helps you realise what you actually like and want.

Remember those questions we suggested at the start? Go back to them. Are the answers now different, and if so how?

TIP: So, without being a ‘Debbie Downer’ you do need to keep in mind how you are going to live and pay the bills while you are reassessing or looking to make a change – you are an adult now.
You absolutely need to be happy but, you need to have a roof over your head and eat too!

“Don’t feel like you can’t change your degree halfway through – you can!  And why not, you are always learning and growing, and might find yourself wanting a different path.”


A lot of the time, stories from others can be the most inspiring and informative.

Click on the links below to read stories from recent recipients about their education choices and dreams, and how CEF helped them.

Hannah has been supported by CEF West Wyalong. She says, “I really want young people to understand that there are so many ways to reach the end goal – you don’t have to fit the stereotypical mould.” Check out her video on the very different path she took after school, and read more about her experience HERE.

Find more great student advice videos in the CEF “Make it Possible” online inspiration hub.


The CEF “Make it Possible” online inspiration hub provides useful information to help you make your decision, and how to get to where you want to go. It covers burning questions like:

  • What are my options?
  • Who can I talk to?
  • What about money?
  • How do I get there?
  • Where will I live?

The More Than Your ATAR series will  cover topics such as:

We’ll be talking to all the experts – students, CEF volunteers, high school and university advisors to help you on this long, windy road!


Author Nicole

CEF Engagement & Development

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