Five days to go. In five days’ time, an experience that has been a constant in my life since 2005 will finally reach its conclusion. In five days’ time, I will gain an insight into what my future may hold.
In five days’ time, I receive my Year 12 results.
It is strange to think that I am actually saying this. We seem to have been through so many ‘finishings’ and ‘endings’ and ‘conclusions’ and ‘farewells’ over the last few weeks that it’s hard to believe this is actually it. The arrival of results officially marks the resolution of the last unfinished business I have with Secondary School.
Throughout our Secondary schooling and particularly over the last few years, my school was very keen on ‘Goal Setting’. A monotonous task dreaded by every student at the beginning of each semester, we were forced to put down on paper something we would like to achieve for that particular period of time, and think about how we would go about working towards it and how we would know that we had reached our goal. Whilst this is a very worthwhile practice for some, the formality of these sessions and the fact that they were compulsory turned many students off the idea.
So now I am awaiting Monday, when I shall receive a text message at 7am that will contain my results. In particular my ATAR score (Australian Tertiary Admission Ranking). A number between <30 and 99.95 that will place me in comparison with the tens of thousands of other students who completed Year 12, and will be used by Universities to determine whether I am worthy of a place in one of their courses.
I am very lucky in my situation. I have worked hard enough and achieved high enough marks over the last few years and all of this year that the score I need for my first preference course is basically a given. But as I discussed with a friend and with my mother yesterday, now I am in the position of trying to work out what I would like to get. A sort of informal Goal Setting.
The ATAR score is very important for applying for most University courses. But once offers have been made and accepted and you are enrolled, it never makes a difference again. Anyone who completed Year 12 will tell you that within a year or two, no one even remembers what they got any more. So what is the importance of this number if I know I can get what I need for my course?
Is it personal satisfaction? I’m not sure. The ATAR score is not so much a grade as it is a ranking. It places you in a hierarchy with all the other Year 12 students. So even if I did do exceptionally well and should be incredibly proud of my efforts, if enough other people did too then my score could be lowered. Similarly, if I did terribly and bombed out on all my exams, but so too did a fair majority of the cohort, my score could go up. There is an incredible amount of scaling that happens with these scores, which means it is not really an accurate gauge of how you went individually.
Is it for bragging rights? Is it wrong that I would like to receive a score higher than some of my classmates? Everyone knows at least a few people who always seem to better them on everything – and be it due to talent or statistical alteration, to achieve an ATAR of the same level or higher than those with whom I have essentially been competing all year would bring a sense of selfish satisfaction.
So I have come to a conclusion about my goal for my score. The mark required for my course is essentially in the bag. I have a higher score that I believe is achievable and I would be happy with, and another that would be the ultimate goal. But why did I choose that particular number? I don’t know. Perhaps because I see it as a possibility, and now it is just to say that I set a goal and achieved it, even if I only set it yesterday. Perhaps because I would feel I had let myself down if I received any less. Perhaps it is because I would like it to be higher than a fair number of my friends and classmates.
Either way, I suppose all there is to do now is wait.