This time it’s really finishing.

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.

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4 thoughts on “This time it’s really finishing.

  1. Interesting reflections Motzie.

    Your year 12 number might well never matter after it has been used to slot you into a place at uni. 32 years on however, I still remember my year 12 results – quite clearly. Every now and then – such as now – I think about them and what I did to achieve them and what perhaps I could have done? I too got my first preference and completed that same course.

    Year 12 however is unique – for most of us anyway – because as you have written, it is a comparison of you and every other year 12 student in the state. It is, by design, a competition.

    Competition in various forms though is part of our society. It is however something that does not sit comfortably with certain personalities. Some of us keep our competitve thoughts inside but feel quietly pleased when we achieve a better result than those who we have assessed as warranting a lesser mark. Others are happier to shout from the rooftops. I’m not sure that this is good or bad – perhaps it simply IS.

    This will of course not be the last time that you will compete with others. Many workplaces have a high degree of competition. Pay rises are often determined by ranking the performance of employees against each other – as a means to spread the limited cash resources across the workers. Competition for scholarships, jobs, roles in plays etc.

    So… Are you going to publish your predicted score/s?

  2. I think the most important thing in life is to have no regrets! You did your best because that’s the way you are. The rest, as far as that score is concerned, and as you well recognize, is subject to the hills and dales of “the system.”

    And because you’re “the thinker” you can’t help wondering and analysing! I know it well. And even after all is revealed, will there be more wonderings and what ifs? Are we thinkers ever satisfied?

    I didn’t start to work well until tertiary (was only 16 for most of VCE or Matric in those days) and used to think “if only I had worked…” but then…all those people I’ve met on my present journey wouldn’t be my friends today. If I hadn’t become a teacher, I would never have made these particular friends, gone to work in PNG where I met my husband,and so many amazing people from around the world, had these particular children and so it goes on.

    So…always thinking, sometimes wondering, not regretting!

    Meanwhile, looking forward to hearing ofMonday’s joy!

  3. Thanks so much for the feedback!

    AM, that’s very true that Year 12 is one of the first more serious forms of competition we’ll face. I can only hope that the fact I have handled this year puts me in a good position to handle those experiences yet to come!

    And no, I’m not going to publish my scores here – I don’t exactly know why but that’s just what I decided.

    Marg – ahh, the trials and tribulations of being a Thinker! The effects of ‘the system’ are, I think, the main factors that make me wonder about my score. The fact that someone can do exceptionally well in Arts or Drama or Music and not get a score as high as they wanted, simply because those subjects are marked down, grates on me a bit. Luckily I am in the position of having done no subjects that are marked down – in fact I did French this year, which receives the highest mark up of any subject!

    As you say though, I worked hard this year (and in all my high school years for that matter) and that’s why I decided to set myself a bit of a goal. I know I can get what I need, now is just a case of seeing if I can get what I want to reward my efforts.

    Fingers crossed!

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