The world won’t end tomorrow. But sadly, it might feel like it has for some young Australians who haven’t got the ATAR scores they hoped for.

There’s a lot of hype at this time of year as the uni entry scores trickle through. Kids really feel like it all hinges on this, like everything that’s ever going to happen will either be kick-started this week or not.

Relax, kids. As Paul Murray reminded his audience on his excellent Sky News show last night, the world just doesn’t work that way. Murray himself scored just 42 per cent back in the day. He joked about it, saying “a lot of people will say ‘well, that proves the dunce that he continues to be to this day’.”

But he had a serious point to make and the point was this.

“It doesn’t matter what the piece of paper says, but if you are the most passionate person who goes for a job you’re a good chance of getting it.”

There’s a lot in that. Good old fashioned passion and enthusiasm helps. It might not help you get into nano-medicine or rocket engineering, but there are ways and means and back doors for those who really want to pursue a particular career.

It’s always a little distasteful to hear kids like the one in the Sydney press today who went “hooray, I got 99.95, now I can get into the course I really want to do”. Ambition is admirable. But kids like that seem a little obsessive.

I wouldn’t urge any young Australian to follow my lead in anything, but as an example, I left in school in ’87 with a score of ’87 and did a degree in the economics faculty. I ended up a sports journo and gibberer-at-large.

Point is, life has more twists and turns than the curly-wurly phone cords we used to have when I was a kid.

I know the world has changed and that it’s more competitive than ever out there now. But the marks that roll in today will just be one of those twists.

It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get what you hoped for. In fact, it might be the start of a much more interesting and challenging life.


Punchers, we’d love to hear from you on this. If you’re game, why not tell us what score you got and whether it helped or hindered you? As ever, over to you guys…

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEDST

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    • Maxx says:

      09:57am | 20/12/12

      You can still get into uni if that’;s what you want. UWS is taking most students now that the govt cap is removed and if they don’t, you can go through UWS College or TAFE and come in a year later. That said, if study in year 12 hasn’t worked, maybe go see the world and try later. Lots do that too.

    • acotrel says:

      04:07pm | 20/12/12

      Project and risk management skills are good to have.  Tradies on construction sites cannot move without the skilled person leading. The difficulty lies in finding teachers who actually know what they are about.. Currently project management is usually only taught as part of IT courses and some advanced engineering, it is logic not rocket science.

    • Joe says:

      04:27pm | 20/12/12

      Poul, time to stop drinking.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      10:09am | 20/12/12

      Why would you want to go to University? Trades are where the money is at if you can hack the poverty stricken apprenticeship…...

    • Levi says:

      10:28am | 20/12/12

      True, but you can always go to uni and do engineering, geology or surveying and make more than any tradie. Earn more money stacking shelves at woolies than an apprentice does in a week. Then spend all your spare time chasing around 18 year old uni chicks. Good times.

    • Hmmm says:

      10:57am | 20/12/12


      Thats simply not true mate.
      A diesal mechanic, fitter and turner or air con mechanic just to name a few will crap all over a Geologist or Surveyor. And as an engineer you are up against 3427682746237849624892 Sub continent Engineers with Master degrees. Good luck there.
      Also good luck chasing around Uni chicks with no money, the tradies win there too, fair enough they dont get much as an apprentice but its more than a Uni student .

    • Samantha says:

      11:06am | 20/12/12

      I disagree to a certain degree.  I am one of those engineers that does not earn more than a tradie does as the industry I work in pays tradies and other operators an absolute fortune for seemingly less responsibility.  It depends on if you want to travel to work, is all.  But I’m not complaining about what I earn, I think it’s worth it and in the end, it is the operators who are responsible for ensuring the works are done properly, after all, they are the ones actually carrying them out.

    • Andrew says:

      11:28am | 20/12/12

      Your probably right Shane, but i was useless at trades but my skills in delegating other people to complete my wood and metal work assignments in high school shown that perhaps i have a future in business.

      Now i am at business school, needless to say, it is easy to see the MBA students, they are the ones that steal your ideas and make it out to be their own.

    • JTO says:

      11:34am | 20/12/12

      Hmmm - I manage several outsourced software teams in Australia and India. I earned my way to this position and have the knowledge and experience to do the job and assess the output of my teams, but what happens in 20 years when we’ve had no juniors coming through the ranks. How do you effectively manage someone when you have no real idea what they do? Or the problems they might face? Or the excuses they will use? That’s what worries me.

    • Tubesteak says:

      11:58am | 20/12/12

      Have to agree with this. I know tradies that earn more than lawyers. The only uni degrees these days that are lucrative are Com/Law for investment banking or medicine. The rest of the degrees are a waste of time.

      I was joking with a friend yesterday about how the trades were frowned upon when I was at school. If only…...

    • Ziggy says:

      12:33pm | 20/12/12

      Sorry guys but you forget the accountants. An average accountant with a talent in finance especially financing methods and structuring will earn megabucks.And getting an accounting degree is childs play compared to engineering or law.I’m a CA but a friend who got his accounting CPA via TAFE path is earning more than any partner in my firm because he has the talent and passion for financing projects and companies.And good luck to him.
      I’m all for the tradies as well.

    • expat says:

      01:02pm | 20/12/12

      The gravy train that tradespeople are currently riding won’t last forever..

      Supply and demand is likely to be your short term issue, what happens when all of these people who are now choosing to do apprenticeships over uni come onto the market fully qualified? Add this to the fact that mining is on the slow down, which has been the one factor in propping up the wages.

      Mid term you eventually will have to contend with globalisation like your white collar counterparts have already had to. Those 457 visa’s are already flowing for the mining industry, that is just the start.

      Tell me again why you would want to do a trade?

    • Joel M-J says:

      01:12pm | 20/12/12

      Success = decent salary, right guys? You’re comparing degrees and trades based on what it will earn you. How very enlightened of you all.

      I for one would not be choosing one career path over the other simply because it is more lucrative. There is a massive difference between job satisfaction and earning a lot of money.

      I learnt that the hard way. By the end of my first year out of uni, I was earning 80k a year… and hated the job. I left it to take a job in a completely different industry, that only paid 50k a year, and never looked back.

      If your job satisfaction is determined by the size of your salary, fair enough. To each their own. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that the same principal applies to everyone, and certainly don’t be so arrogant as to assign judgement on how successful people are based on income.

    • My Space says:

      01:20pm | 20/12/12

      Tradies?? Good luck with that .... I know too many with stuffed shoulders, backs, knees, hip joints, missing fingers, skin cancers and aged prematurely from being in the sun too long.

      Science and engineering, teamed with a management decree and business skills is fun, fun, fun!!! It has taken me around the world, to places people dream about.

      Yeah ..... if you stuffed around at school you can go to TAFE or go OS for a year and hope for the best. But face it ..... you have probably wasted 2-years of your life .... which amounts to $140K (maybe). When you graduate you are already behind. Got a nephew who did this, but at least he is owning up to his mistakes and he is openly telling his cousins not to stuff around like he did.

      Also the fact that you are an underachiever probably reflects on your work ethic ..... so good luck flipping those burgers.

    • Levi says:

      01:39pm | 20/12/12


      Well everyone has different experiences I suppose. Where I work and most companies I’ve worked for, Geo’s and engineers always get paid more than their tradie counterparts, and we’re not bound by EBA’s like they are. More flexible rosters, better work conditions and better benefits. But every industry is different.

      Subcontinent engineers with Masters degrees generally end up driving cabs in Australia. From what I hear it’s a major issue in IT etc. But in mining if you’re shit you don’t get hired. Foreigners are very much the exception to the norm. The shortage of degree qualified engineers, geo’s/ surveyors isnt so dire in Australia that we need to rely on imports, especially now that the boom is slowing down.

      If my kids want to go to uni someday, I’d give them this advice. Choose from Medicine, Vet, Dentistry, Mining/Chem/Mech Engineering, Geology, Surveying, Commerce/Business or Accounting. Don’t waste your time with anything else.

      As for trades, the good times are soon to be over just like mining. The boom of the early 2000’s for building has finished, but a contraction in wages has been slow to catch up.

    • My Space says:

      03:04pm | 20/12/12

      @ Levi

      What??? You wouldn’t recommend an Arts Degree???

    • acotrel says:

      04:16pm | 20/12/12

      The important thing about pursuing part time studies is to find something which really interests you, then learning is easy.  I was still at night school at age 57.  I always did courses in subjects which I liked and enhanced my career as a scientist in engineering companies. If your motive is purely to make money become a bookie or a stockbroker - same thing !

    • bananabender says:

      04:25pm | 20/12/12

      nothing could be further from the truth. I known a senior engineer in the mining industry - Ist class honours, master of engineering degree and an MBA. He earns considerably less than his brother who drives a haulpak.

    • acotrel says:

      05:07pm | 20/12/12

      Some farmers earn a lot of money driving tractors, but I think you’d have to be able to live with the idea that life is passing you by, or be conditioned to do the job. It would be good to do it for a month after working for 40 years in a highly stressed job. Sort of like Zen Buddhism ?

    • Tubesteak says:

      05:24pm | 20/12/12

      The only reason to work is for money. The more money the better. Better still if it’s an easy cruisy sort of job. Money is the only thing that will buy you a nice house and a sweet ride. Lets not forget the ol saying “no money no honey” too

    • Hmmmm says:

      10:12am | 20/12/12

      I royally screwed up Year 12.
      I was one of those annoying buggers that never had to work or study for A’s. Until Year 12 hit and I found I didnt have any study habits.
      Needless to say while I passed it was nowhere as near as my parents and I had hoped. While considering whether to repeat I took a University offer and started in a more basic course.
      While your HS scores are important to get INTO uni, once you are in they are meaningless, get a Distinction Average at Uni and you can tranfer to most other courses or Universities without hassle.
      The real world does not care about your High School score. We care about good work ethics, initiative, honesty and attitude.

      Needless to say my generation who were pushed heavily towards a University education are sitting back green with envy watching the smarter buggers that left in Year 10 and got a decent apprenticeship earn twice our wages.

      Most trades will pay higher than most upper managment positions in the Private sector. Something to think about.

    • George says:

      10:40am | 20/12/12

      Do they? I think this is a conversation we as a country need to have. It’s just not on in my book that a year 10 dropout doing quite basic things is making big bucks and financially insulting others who did the harder stuff at school and uni.

      I think we need to have a good look at importing shed loads of Indian tradies, these people built Dubai for crying out loud.

      On topic, I 100% agree, the HSC is massively overrated and being a lawyer or a doctor looks pretty sucky to me.

    • Pattem says:

      10:51am | 20/12/12

      @Hmmmm, you stated: ” was one of those annoying buggers that never had to work or study for A’s. Until Year 12 hit and I found I didnt have any study habits”.

      Sounds like me! smile

    • Hmmm says:

      11:04am | 20/12/12

      Haha Pattem its funny isnt it. Not sure if the jump from Year 11 to 12 hit me or I just hit my intellectual limit at that stage. Might have been girls also.

      George, its just a market and demand thing I guess.
      My parent tell me in the 60’s and 70’s a lot of the $$$ trades didnt bring in that much back then. People stopped training, skillsets grew more scarce and this is what you end up with. A diesal mechanic at a mine earning more than people who run your state.
      Right or Wrong it has to make you think

    • Pattem says:

      11:44am | 20/12/12

      @Hmmmm, I think for me I reached a point where raw talent was no longer enough to achieve high marks.  Hard work was now required to understand the more complex concepts and maintain a similar standard of grade.  I just went pfft and couldn’t be bothered doing that hard work.

      It only meant my uni journey was slightly delayed, rather than being completely derailed.

    • JTO says:

      12:50pm | 20/12/12

      Pattem - See I avoided joining the me too thread, but that’s spot on. Raw talent will only take you so far.

      “delayed not derailed”
      I believe I may hold the record for the longest time between starting and graduating at a certain engineering department. It took me so long my youngest attended some lectures with me, and was there to see me graduate. That was a proud moment. I still get a buzz when she puts on the little graduation bear pin that I gave her that day.

    • Brian B says:

      01:23pm | 20/12/12

      Bit rough on tradies George old son. Most apprentices choose to take up a trade after Year 10 - they are not “drop outs”.

      Also they do a deal more than “quite basic things”.

      Try asking your average accountant to build a house or carry out plumbing or refrigeration work.

    • Mark says:

      01:31pm | 20/12/12

      I didn’t have to work hard or study for A’s, even in YR12.

      I went to University and did a high level course at the top victorian university. 3 years later and I realised they weren’t teaching me anything I didn’t already know, they weren’t providing me with the resources or support to develop my own ideas and all you do is sit in front of a lecturer listening to them blab on about theories that are readily available to anyone who is interested.

      Seriously, university is nothing but an unessential degree printing factory. You can develop all the skills learned at uni in a shorter period of time working on the job. 

      Oh, and money isn’t everything. Get passed that and you may not be so distraught about your job prospects. I know I would give anything to go back to high school, before the slavery for a wage kicks in.

    • acotrel says:

      04:26pm | 20/12/12

      My brother is a competent boilermaker in the construction industry. It’s not that flash.  The companies employ imports with minimal training, and call them trades assistants.  They can do just enough to undermine the tradies. I know tradies that earn more than I ever did, but they are not the majority, and their workplace culture usually stinks. As far as moving from a trade to a profession, forget it, it’s a dead end.

    • acotrel says:

      04:49pm | 20/12/12

      @Brian B
      ‘Try asking your average accountant to build a house or carry out plumbing or refrigeration work’

      I’m an industrial chemist however I build a meaner road racing motorcycle than any tradie or mechanical engineer ever can.
      It is all about application, building a house or plumbing is not rocket science, you start and you finish after you’ve read all the relevant standards. With tradies it is often monkey see, monkey do.  But if you read the relevant standards, they usually have it somewhere near right, because their apprenticeship classes are taught out of the standards. You often hear the phrase ‘when I done me time’ from them - they regard their apprenticeships as prison sentences . They are all good people, but don’t bullshit me about their knowledge of anything slightly advanced. The last courses I did were in welding technology, because I had responsibility for weld inspections.  The tradies were very limited in what they knew about aircraft welding or other high strength applications.  So the thing to do is always work with them and bring them along if you need to do that stuff..

    • Ben says:

      05:44pm | 20/12/12


      >>It is all about application, building a house or plumbing is not rocket science, you start and you finish after you’ve read all the relevant standards. With tradies it is often monkey see, monkey do. 

      Yes, of course. Monkey sees mention of Tony Abbott, monkey (as trained by his keeper) automatically throws poo at Tony Abbott.

    • the cynic says:

      06:11pm | 20/12/12

      Acotrel says… “As far as moving from a trade to a profession, forget it, it’s a dead end” ........ Really !  At age 15 I left school with overall average marks and one fail in Maths II. I wanted to fly desperately but with my marks I was very lucky to even get an apprenticeship in one of Australias domestic airlines, became an engine/airframe mechanic then a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer(LAME) .

      After a few years positions came up to move over to the professional Flight Engineer ranks, was interviewed and accepted and I ended up flying all over Australia and then the world in another airline. Got where I wanted to be and never had to work at the coalface ever again.

      I flew for 36 years and now happily retired after moving from a trade to a profession and have been renumerated handsomely because of the change. Not exactly a dead end move I would say. If you want something bad enough just go for it.

    • andrew says:

      10:28am | 20/12/12

      If you are willing to leave the city to study they are worth looking into, due to lower demand for places the entry scores are generally lower than Sydney / Newcastle / Wollongong. I personally studied at the Wagga Wagga campus 7-10 years ago, I only had a UAI of 77 which wouldn’t have got me into the same applied science course at sydney or newcastle (both were in the 80-85 range).

    • acotrel says:

      04:52pm | 20/12/12

      I live in Benalla - bit of a problem if you want to study advanced maths.

    • Caygee says:

      10:38am | 20/12/12

      I have known countless graduates who are morons and are useless at work. On the other hand a trade or someone who has worked their way up cannot be more successful than most. It’s not the score that counts it’s your attitudes.

    • acotrel says:

      04:59pm | 20/12/12

      The best and worst engineers have come up from the shop floor.  The worst bring the bullying uncaring culture with them.

    • Jackson says:

      10:41am | 20/12/12

      I didn’t do as well as I thought on my ATAR, but I know what my goal is: to be a journalist. I was told by a few people that I wouldn’t achieve this dream, and when my ATAR came, for a fleeting moment I thought that had all been proven right. But I’ve already found two options that will help me achieve my dream and I’m going to do whatever it takes. I’m not going to let a score determine my life.

    • Joel M-J says:

      01:17pm | 20/12/12

      Good for you Jackson. Do what you have to do. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

    • Pattem says:

      10:47am | 20/12/12

      TAFE remains a perfectly legitimate alternative to University.  Why University is marketed as the only Post-Secondary study option is beyond me.  You can do anything from Certificate IIIs to Advanced Diplomas (and everything in between), and some TAFEs are now even providing Associate Degrees in some disciplines. 

      TAFE covers trades, heavy trades, but also segues into Computer Studies, Business Studies, Information Studies, Science, and so on.  The higher end TAFE qualifications can give up to a year’s Advanced Standing into the University Undergrad of same discipline.

      TAFE can end up being a backdoor or stepping stone into Uni, so not getting the marks to be immediately accepted into university is definitely not the end of the world.

    • Not telling says:

      10:52am | 20/12/12

      I got a 630 TE score in Queensland - which was the lowest of all of my friends and could only get into TAFE. When I got I finally got to Uni I flourished. It was the way I was taught at school didn’t click with me.

      I saw Paul Murray’s editorial and I must admit I got a bit misty and even sent an email thanking him. So well said.

      I went from dunce to academic awards is less than two years. A teacher I admired had above the desk “A TE (now OP, HSC etc) score is not the only criterion for success”.

      In fact it is not at all a measure of success. What you do with your live is. To love. To be part of community. To enjoy your work etc - that is success.

    • Tester says:

      11:01am | 20/12/12

      I didnt work that hard in school, didnt get a UAI. Fell into a very junior role, worked my way up to be one of the best in department of about 20. Left there and now in a happy job earning good money.

    • acotrel says:

      05:25pm | 20/12/12

      Tester, I’ve never been ‘in a happy job, earning good money’.  However the job interest and opportunity to apply myself have always been excellent.  It is a question of values.

    • Andrew says:

      11:18am | 20/12/12

      Also, doing not as well as you hoped on your HSC is not as bad as it sounds. I had no idea really what i wanted to do and put in for some courses that sounded interesting. Luckily, my marks meant i didn’t get an offer, i got some experience in work and life, now know what it is i want to do and managed to parlay my work experience in to a postgraduate program at a good Sydney uni. There are always abck dfoor ways into the course you want anyway i have noticed, i used work experience, others have got into an arts degree and transferred across.

      Never was an undergraduate, just did a diploma at tafe, currently at uni doing post grad with a high distinction average and in 4 years hope to have my masters sorted out. Worked out pretty welll and i think it is all due to me not doing as well as i hoped in my HSC.

    • Anjuli says:

      11:25am | 20/12/12

      AS long as you have 2 hands good health and good work ethic you will always be able to put food on the table, sometimes it turns out better than those who have gone to university.
      I was told of a millionaire who had been a street kid ,you don’t have to have it all to be happy ,nothing is written in stone.
      My daughter did not do well in her 12th year ,took the hard way to where she is now a RN in the emergency dept. Didn’t think she could do the course for RN ,did EN first, found it easy worked a while had a family then thought I can do RN.

    • JTO says:

      11:27am | 20/12/12

      It’s all about the particular industry really. I’ve been a programmer for 20 years, and in the beginning I certainly didn’t need a degree. Times change however and computer programming became popular (it’s the way to big bucks don’t you know) and employers started requiring degrees. Of course there are still not enough computer science graduates to fill the positions so most engineers I’ve worked with are either electrical, electronic, or mechatronic engineers who happen to like programming. See the problem there? They (I’m one of them) are not actually any more qualified than before. It’s a game. Learn the rules, play to win. Don’t complain about the rules.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      11:35am | 20/12/12

      Plenty of jobs out there if you don’t make it.

      I work in Real Estate and do pretty well for myself. Same could be said for my friends who are tradies, recruitment etc.

    • sunny says:

      12:15pm | 20/12/12

      For the purposes of ‘getting’ a job in your field, your degree or other qualification is probably only looked at in the interview for your first job. The best qualification for your second job is your first job (job history/projects delivered, references). I list my qualifications in my CV but don’t have my actual degree or academic record as part of my resume - really no one is interested in anything other than work history. If you can somehow get in the door of a company and work your way into the role you want by showing enthusiasm and learning on the way and making yourself useful, you can possibly get away without having that piece of paper that makes it official. I’m talking general business roles here not science, law, medicine etc. for which your degree will definitely be scrutinised. Having said that it’s a good idea to get a degree at some stage, I’ve leaned heavily on my book learnin’ at various times during my career.

    • Colin says:

      01:09pm | 20/12/12

      @ sunny

      Unless, of course, you have a ‘Real’ degree that is the fundamental basis for your working life without which you would be unemployable in a particular field…Which means that your subsequent jobs all also require it (and postgrad quals too), as I well know…

    • sunny says:

      06:03pm | 20/12/12

      My point was that I probably could still have been employable in my field (business) without my degree - a number of people doing exactly what I do don’t have a degree. I’ve never had to show my academic transcript to an employer, and only needed to show the actual degree certificate during my first interview 20 years ago as a graduate. Accepted though that law and medicine etc. are different - i.e. fields where the degree is the fundamental basis for your working life. Don’t get me wrong I have benefited from my time at uni, but wonder if there was another (possibly shorter) path to where I am now.

    • AdamC says:

      12:18pm | 20/12/12

      I got 95 point something in the then Victorian ENTER system. I went to uni and studied commerce. (I have also done some further study, which I did fairly well in.) Now I work in a government agency. I use some skills and knowledge that I gained through my formal education in my job, but there is so much you learn by simply doing things, especially when you do them well.

      I have learned a lot about many things just by following my own interests, reading things, doing training courses and the like. Life is really the ultimate education. (Did I just write that ..? How embarrassment!)

    • Jess says:

      02:09pm | 20/12/12

      Talk to the people who didn’t go to uni - In my department non degree qualified people tend to struggle once they hit the 5/6 level. (exluding IT)

    • AdamC says:

      02:47pm | 20/12/12

      Jess, are you talking about pay grades there?

      Everyone in my agency, except the admin and data processing staff, have degrees, so I do not have any real insight into that. Personally, I tend to think sometimes degrees are being used merely as ‘entry tickets’ to roles. Lots of jobs in areas like government, banking, insurance and the like did not used to require degrees but now do.

    • JTO says:

      03:03pm | 20/12/12

      AdamC - That’s exactly what my degree was. I was a programmer before I got my degree, and one after. Nothing changed except I wanted to leave the small company I was working for and needed my ticket. I struggled for years refusing to do it because that was all it was, then gave in. The stupidity is that my degree doesn’t even directly relate to my job. Sure it was in engineering, but not software engineering.

    • AdamC says:

      03:30pm | 20/12/12

      JTO, sometimes I think employers want to see degrees just so they know you are smart enough to learn stuff and can read and write.

    • Jess says:

      04:04pm | 20/12/12

      levels of responsiblity really Australian Public Service Goes APS 2-6 now days EL 1-2 SES Band 1-3.
      APS 2-6 are the lowly staff increasing responsibility and wages at each level, Execuative 1-2 are middle management and SES is senior executive service.
      There is alot of research and analysis in my department so having a degree as you move up from processing jobs/data entry is benefitial.

    • Colin says:

      12:38pm | 20/12/12

      I couldn’t care LESS if a ‘Tradie’ made triple what I do; they are still a tradie, they are still just cashed-up bogans…

      Whilst I earn significantly more than any ‘Tradie’, I would really do what I do for free (if I could live on nothing) and I sure as hell wouldn’t swap my years of tertiary education or my current vocation for some trade qualification…Blecch!

      It’s not all about the money, people. But, then, that sentiment is just lost on cashed-up bogans who think that the idiot who dies first with the most jet-skis, big screen TVs, and four-wheel-drives wins, isn’t it..?

    • shakazulu says:

      12:40pm | 20/12/12

      Similar story in the military as well - horses for courses. I recall us having to replace most of our officers within the first 3 months of active combat because we discovered that all the selection methods and qualifications were fine in peacetime but counted for little when the chips were down. Murray is quite right - make the most of any opportunity and apply passion and commitment and you will surely succeed. Pieces of paper are just pieces of paper.

    • KimL says:

      01:05pm | 20/12/12

      My husband is a boilermaker..we mange quite well. His apprenticeship was 4 years in his day I think it is only 3 years now but he has a master craftsman can’t get them anymore, and went to Tech and got all his Tig, Mig, Stick tickets himself also paid for his own confined spaces certificate. He can also weld to xray quality.. You do much better and be paid higher if you go back to Tech and learn more about your trade

    • Arnold Layne says:

      01:37pm | 20/12/12

      These days it seems increasingly more important to be “connected” than score the top marks.  I’m not suggesting whether Paul Murray is or not, I truly don’t know, but it makes a big difference.

    • James1 says:

      01:50pm | 20/12/12

      I didn’t finish year 12.  Hell, I didn’t even finish year ten at high school.  I dropped out as soon as I could, worked on a farm picking vegetables for several years, did a bridging course to get into university, and now I hold a PhD in international relations and earn far above the average wage doing my dream job, and I am well on my way to the top of my department.

      So in answer to the question at the end of the article, I didn’t get any score at all, yet I am just as successful (more so in most cases) as my contemporaries who did score well.

    • AdamC says:

      02:06pm | 20/12/12

      Was there any particular reason you dropped out, James1?

    • Slothy says:

      03:34pm | 20/12/12

      I’m something of the middle ground between the two extremes. I had a good dose of natural talent and just enough in the way of study habits to get a TER in the 90s. I could’ve pushed harder and gotten into scholarship range, but year 12 was an enjoyable year for me – I met both my partner and my best friend that year – and managed a good balance of school and fun. That pattern of very good, but not elite, marks continued, and got me a fulfilling and well-paying job straight out of uni. I sometimes wonder where I could’ve ended up if I had gone hard and exploited my academic inclination to the fullest, but then I remember that I haaaate sitting through lectures and relax.

      My best friend on the other hand, is both naturally smart and has WAAY better study habits than me. She got a 99+ TER, and a scholarship to study law at ANU. She also had a nervous breakdown towards the end of the year, took a year off to work, and struggled with anxiety throughout university. It took some time, some work experience, a couple of exchanges, but she came good in the end. Nine years on from high school, we’re working in the same building. I’m a couple of levels higher than her thanks to a bit of a head start at this department, but she will catch up pretty quickly.

      My little sister on the third hand (surgically grafted just below the chest), is also naturally talented, but with no real academic interest. She didn’t really finish year 12. However, she worked full-time from the time she left school, and the fact that she is smart, a hard worker, and someone who picks things up very quickly means she is now 24 years old, managing 20 staff, some of whom are twice her age, earning not much less than me, and in a workplace that has pegged her as a future leader and is paying for the required further study.

      Basically, we took three different approaches to year 12, made three different sets of mistakes, and have all ended up with fulfilling jobs doing things we enjoy and living lives that make us happy. Year 12 is a good head start if you want to go through the uni track, but it is far from the be all and end all. Transferring courses, bridging courses, mature entry, employer supported study, on the job training - there are plenty of ways to get the life you want that are completely seperate from your year 12 scores.

    • Gerry says:

      04:12pm | 20/12/12

      Doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, or how much knowledge or experience, or problem solving abilities you have. If you are over 50 you won’t get the job.

    • Jess says:

      04:13pm | 20/12/12

      I was at a seminar the other week and one of the presenters (admittably he was a researcher from a university) was going on and on about how getting an ATAR score and getting into university was the be all and end all measure of success.  1/2 of my year 12 cohort didn’t get a UAI doesn’t mean they all failed.
      That was just one of the many, many issues I found wrong with his presentation. (If getting an ATAR score isn’t compusulary in every state to get a year 12 certificate how can it be considered as a reliable measure? topic alone you can’t get reliable data from Australia and you won’t be able to get reliable data anywhere until 2019/2020 for his topic)

    • Mike says:

      04:19pm | 20/12/12

      But it will be if a meteorite smashes into the earth in the next few days smile

    • bananabender says:

      04:28pm | 20/12/12


      vets earn less per hour than checkout chicks.

    • acotrel says:

      05:18pm | 20/12/12

      I’m 71 years old ad I haven’t got much money.  Many people earned a lot more than I ever did. But in my professional life I achieved a lot which was cutting edge, and I can list my intellectual and physical achievements.  I look back and I know there were places that I should not have been,but the experience was intrinsically valuable even if not in a monetary sense.  I bounce a lot of people around on this forum, where do you think that ability came from ? I had extremely stressful jobs, but high job satisfaction, nobig money, but looking back I’m happy. Enjoy your lives doing things that you like, you are a long time dead.

    • stephen says:

      06:05pm | 20/12/12

      But isn’t it true that the kids who worry about, at school, ticks, percentages, marks, averages, and entrance scores, worry about such things their whole lives : they are the ones who carve out a career in finance, at Law, in Medicine and every other damned job which requires them to collate their customers for the balance sheet, only.
      Everything is a number corresponding to income, or an opportunity which is competitive, only ; there is no intrinsicality, nothing which may be progress to learning.
      The Education system caters for this kind of conservatism precisely because it emphasizes final marks, as if any profession nowadays relies on a final outcome and not a conglomerate of general effort by a number of workers i.e. teamwork.
      It is the student who is consistently above average and is impressive at interview - and there may well be a number of these interviews - who should get first place for the university course of their choice, and not the kid who waits outside the library an hour before it opens to get to the best computer, or the kid who studies so hard and wracks his/her brain, gets a good job, then gets a gig on Australian Story 15 years later about depression and how hard it is to succeed and that the government isn’t doing enough to alleviate worker’s who burn out early.

      The most important professions are getting the wrong type of intelligences.

    • Cat says:

      06:57pm | 20/12/12

      I left school with five Leaving subjects…scraped into teacher training college as a “private” student. I worked my way through college and managed to scrape bare passes all the way. After two years teaching I had saved enough to head off to the UK where I went to university and did a specialist post-grad teaching training course.  Back here reluctantly and I did some more teaching, saw no future in my chosen area and went back to university (still working my way through) - did my doctorate and then an honours degree in another area.
      I did it all with a disability that seriously affects my ability to write and it was not until I went to university that I was permitted to type my examinations.
      My advice? If you really want something then you can do it - but it won’t necessarily be easy.


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