The truth is, you are not your ATAR score

STILL HOPE: If the final score appearing on the screen isn’t exactly what you wished for, remember that all is not lost.

STILL HOPE: If the final score appearing on the screen isn’t exactly what you wished for, remember that all is not lost.

Most of us are familiar with Facebook arguments. We all know we should avoid them, and yet every now and then I find myself in the position of simply not being able to turn a blind eye.

It all started when Todd Sampson’s tweet from December last year was shared to a popular Facebook page.

The tweet read: “For all those receiving their #HSC scores today it’s worth noting – I’ve hired 100s of successful people as a CEO & not once have I asked for their HSC score or even their uni marks. But I did ask all of them ‘what have you done in your life that has made a difference to others?’ ”

One would be forgiven for thinking it was a tweet worth retweeting, as the sentiment behind it is an important one: you can score 99.95 or 29.95, but if you don’t care about those around you, the mark is irrelevant.

I commented on the post wholeheartedly agreeing with Sampson’s tweet, because the cold hard facts are that after February 2019, your 2018 HSC results don’t matter as much as you think they do.

That number on the screen when the students log on to get their results does not have to be a death knell. A sentiment I thought similarly hard to rebuke.

Sigh. But there is always one, isn’t there, on Facebook. There’s always one who has to take offence. Ordinarily I would let sleeping dogs lie, but in this person’s response, I experienced déjà vu.

I found myself back in school uniform, being told just how everything was riding on my year 12 results. It seems a truth nationally promoted that 18-year-olds have to have a flawless year and, somehow, equate their entire educational experience in one 12-month period. This idea is erroneous at best, and damaging at worst.

To consider that there are two groups of 18-year-olds – those who studied hard and got the ATAR they need, and those who partied hard and didn’t – is so narrow minded, assumptive and elitist.

This school of thought demands the belief that everyone has the ability to score 99.95 if they’d just put their heads down and studied harder. This is a statistical impossibility. What about the kids whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and their world fell apart in their final school year? What of the kid whose best friend went off the rails or the kid whose dog died or the kid who got sick?

Then there are the kids with learning difficulties speech and spectrum disorders, the kids who just don’t think like mainstream education teaches, who are fish being judged on how they can climb a tree.

Not everyone had the perfect childhood. Some kids do and blow it. Some kids don’t and succeed against all odds. Some kids are left behind through no fault of their own.

Not everyone had the perfect childhood. Some kids do and blow it. Some kids don’t and succeed against all odds. Some kids are left behind through no fault of their own. Do we write off all these kids as unworthy of a place in the world of any value?

Do we write off all these kids as unworthy of a place in the world of any value?

We put way too much pressure on our 17 and 18-year-old kids to bear the burden of the rest of their life on their shoulders.

They haven’t experienced the world and all it has to offer, and yet we expect them to know what they want to do with the rest of their life.

Whether you studied hard, partied hard, got sick, dealt with trauma, just didn’t “feel it” on the day, if you wake up next month and the mark you see on that screen isn’t what you want, don’t listen to the naysayers.

Don’t listen to the people who assume you didn’t work hard enough, that you weren’t enough, because All. Is. Not. Lost.

The Monash University shooting in 2002 happened on my floor of the Menzies building because an honours student couldn’t handle the pressure of expectation. I was in lockdown. I walked past blood stains on the carpet to sit my exams that week.

Putting pressure on our kids to constantly do better doesn’t make you a coach, it makes you a bully. And we all know the disastrous impact of bullying on others.

Perhaps, if you still don’t believe me, ask Richard Branson or Mark Zuckerberg or even Bill Gates if mainstream education is the only way to make something of yourself.

If you are a fish out of water, you just have to find the right pond.

Zoë Wundenberg is a careers writer and coach at impressability.com.au