ATAR-less entry – students like it, so do unis

Early entry is gaining fans.
Aug 19, 2021
Early entry
Less stress in a stressful two years.

Anna To’s first steps towards becoming an engineer have been made a lot simpler by applying to Swinburne’s Early Entry program.

The program is an acknowledgement of the stress that COVID has put on students and part of a turn away from assessment of Year 12 students through the ATAR and towards universities identifying the type of students they think will do well.

“Before the year even started, I felt far from prepared for year twelve. It was tough: emotionally and mentally. I felt so much uncertainty revolving around end-of-year exams and university offers that were difficult to cope with until Swinburne’s Early Entry program made its appearance. It was stressful; at times we would come back to school from extended periods of lockdown to complete several assessments within a week, and this left me and many peers losing motivation and deflated in thought of our final exams,” To says.

“In the end, however, receiving my results was a surreal experience. I had struggled to grasp it at first: over a year of preparation somehow justified within one look at the results page. I was lucky enough to celebrate my achievement around teachers and friends, and to have their support in my transition into university.

The process of applying was relatively painless for To who accessed the support of her school’s coordinators and career staff and counsellors.

“Preparing my application was easy with their guidance and my own awareness of why I wanted to go to university,” To says.

“The largest part of the application was a personal statement describing how the Early Entry Program would benefit me and how my studies have been affected by COVID.

“I also required referral from my school in support of my application to study at Swinburne, and to attest that I would be a worthy recipient of a conditional offer,” she says.

If anything, early entry did relieve some pressure, knowing that she had been accepted to university meant that she could really focus on her career path.

“Knowing that I had a conditional offer under my belt when preparing for exams allowed me to set clearer goals as to what I wanted to achieve. I still had to meet my prerequisites for English and Maths, but I was fairly confident in doing so, my goal was to achieve the ATAR of 95 required to receive a Swinburne Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship.

“In the end, exams were less stressful when my sole focus wasn’t getting into university, but doing the best I could and having that effort rewarded."

Swinburne’s culture has proven to be a good fit for To and that has shown up in her academic performance.

“My experience at Swinburne has been very accommodating. While I spent Semester 1 finding my footing in a new environment, I’ve started Semester 2 with much more confidence and motivation than the semester prior.

“I am also this year’s recipient of the Claire Sorati Scholarship for Women in STEM, so I feel very supported by staff and students in my educational endeavors at Swinburne as I continue my Engineering degree,” she says.

Swinburne’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, Professor Chris Pilgrim says, “Swinburne’s Early Entry Program is designed to help provide talented and motivated students a pathway into university that gives them confidence heading into their final-year exams.

“Our focus on using school recommendations and future-focused questions helps us to ensure that we are admitting students with a genuine passion for what they want to study and those that have the ability to thrive at Swinburne.

“We work with schools and students to ensure that we’re uncovering ambitious students who may be missed by other programs. Through our ‘next gen_now’ questionnaire, Swinburne is supporting students who want to make an impact and bring people and technology together to build a better world.

“We received excellent feedback from the program in 2020 and we believe the program will once again provide much-needed certainty for students as they face another COVID-impacted year.”