Entry without an ATAR

In 2008 there were 39,068 year 12 students who applied for University with an ATAR score.
But there were 1,189 applications from students without one.
How did those students get accepted without an ATAR?

Steiner Acceptance

Lola Digaletos, a first year animation student at RMIT, graduated High School in 2008 without an ATAR score.
She attended a Rudolph Steiner School from grade 9 to grade 12.
Rudolph Steiner Schools are smaller private schools with only about 13 High Schools across Australia.  The schools were founded by Rudolph Steiner, with a philosophy of balancing academic pursuits with artistic and social expression.
At Lola’s Steiner School, year 12 subjects were Steiner main lessons and her final year project.
She said “I did a book of short fairy tales and then I wrote an essay on the evolution of fairy tales (for the year 12 project). It’s defiantly helped me get into animation, because I showed them my book and told them about the project and they were said ‘wow, wow, how interesting and unusual, not what people normally do in year 12’.”
Executive Officer of the Rudolph Steiner Schools of Australia Rosemary Gentle said it was important for Steiner students to continue with their main lessons.
“That actual curriculum is a spiral curriculum that works up from year 1 to year 12. So its very important that the student can get those final year 12 main lessons because they are the finishing point of what they’ve been through in that 12 year journey.”
Ms Gentle said, “The year 12 project as it stands is done in Steiner schools around the world, but what it doesn’t have is a UAI accreditation in Australia. That is something that is on our agenda to try and work towards getting… Because we believe very strongly that independent project based study is far more of an indicator of success at the tertiary level then just passing examinations.”

Alternate Applications

Universities differ on the requirements for students without an ATAR. Examples of what you could be required to provide include:

•    A personal statement demonstrating you motivation for study, as well as previous experience in the field ie work experience, extra-curricular study and your desire to succeed in the course
•    A resume listing your employment experience, and explanation of how this could be relevant to your studies ie proving your commitment, showing your independence and tenacity if you go overseas etc
•    A portfolio of work is often required For arts based or creative courses, listing your community involvement in art or design, or examples of your willingness to pursue the subject outside of class
•    Exams also form a part of some non-ATAR entry schemes, ie the UMAT, or written exams or short essays detailing your commitment to the course
•    Completion of the University Preparation Program (UPP) which is designed older students, who don’t possess an ATAR, and have spent time away from formal study

When applying for a non-ATAR position it’s important to thoroughly research your course. Then if you are required to write an essay about your goals, or be involved in an interview, you can speak confidently about what the course expects from you.
Some Universities, such as the Victorian College of the Arts, and selected arts, design and communication courses for all Universities, place more value on these secondary forms and interviews then on an ATAR score.
To succeed in those access schemes shows your commitment, motivation and ability to think outside the square in the approach to your course.

Educational Access Schemes

Most Universities also have Education Access Schemes, sometimes called Special Educational Access Schemes (EAS or SEAS).
These are for students who have had their education disrupted by financial hardship, illness, family responsibilities or disability.
They help provide an explanation to Universities if you feel you have not been performing as well as you could have, due to circumstances you can’t control.
The EAS or SEAS forms can be found on VTAC’s website, and have to be submitted with yout VTAC University application.
The forms require a lot of documentation to explain your hardship, so it is best to begin preparation for applying several months before the September cut-off.

Be passionate

The most important factor in deciding on your University course, particularly if you don’t have an ATAR score, is to have passion for what you want to do.
The academics who read and mark your applications have chosen to dedicate themselves to this subject or course, they will gain greater appreciation for your application if you prove you want to thrive in this area, and that you are completely motivated to do what it takes to immerse yourself into the course.


STUDY: make sure you are up to date on your course guides and University information
BE PREPARED: get all your forms in on time, and make sure you’re on time for all interviews and exams
BE PASSIONATE: let your enthusiasm for the subject have free reign, and make it clear in all forms, interviews and exams that you are completely dedicated to this university course


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