EDITORIAL: Never let a number define who you are or the path you take

Hundreds of VCE students across the Ballarat region woke Friday morning to a number which, many believe defines their future … their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) score.

Some students will be elated with their results, others will feel disappointed by the number before them and others nonplussed by a mark they were expecting, whether high or low. For some, this number opens the doors to unlimited opportunities, while other may have to reconsider their options.

But the ATAR score is just a number after all and should never define who a person is, how hard they have worked or what their career paths will be in the future.

Yes, on the surface an ATAR score may give you a better chance of entering a university course of your dreams now. But for others, when one door closes, another opens.

There are more pathways to a tertiary degree, if that’s the road you want to travel. There are also more career choices that don’t require going to university at all. 

There is enough pressure on these young adults at this time of the year, without the pressure of just one single number.

Just as ATAR scores should never define someone, a person’s career choice should never define people. Because, by its definition, the word choice means more than one option. If you choose to go to university, then good on you. If you choose to take a gap-year to regroup after 13 years of study, then good on you. If you decide to take up an apprenticeship or work behind a bar or in a retail store, then good on you.

It’s your life, your choice and you should never let anyone else make that choice for you.

To make a point about how far a person can go in their lives despite a lower ATAR score, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews post a picture of his 18-year-old self getting his year 12 results in 1991.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews posted the photo on social media in a bid to soften the blow for thousands of school leavers worried about their marks.

The former Wangaratta Galen College student says he didn't earn a "perfect score", but still went on to bigger and better things at Monash University.

"A lot of lives will change this morning," the premier wrote on Twitter on Friday. 

"And if today isn't your day - doesn't matter. There are options. There are pathways. There are heaps of chances."