Tips for parents on ATAR results and managing stress

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Ewa Geba, clinical psychologist and a parent survivor of three HSCs, provides advice for parents on what next once their child receives an ATAR.

So your son or daughter is getting their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) in the next week and all year they have been anxiously preparing themselves for this moment, but on a scale of 1-10 how stressed are you feeling?

Here are five tips for managing your stress once the ATAR results are released:

  1. Stay Calm. Your child needs your support and his/her mental health is more important than their grades. For young people, the fear of disappointing their parents is often much stronger than their disappointment with their results.
  2. Allow time to process. Listen to your child in a non-judgmental way. Avoid making negative comments on what they could have done differently, instead acknowledge their feelings and focus on their strengths.
  3. Remember it is just a number. ATAR does not define your child and certainly does not reflect his/her commitment or your support as a parent. Every child is different.
  4. Focus on the future. Not having a perfect or expected ATAR creates an opportunity to reflect on the future. Once the first feeling of disappointment passes, you can discuss other options with your child such as: choosing a university with lower entry requirements, taking a gap year to work or gain experience and even entering university as a mature student. Options for further education are always available.
  5. Look after yourself. Check in with your own feelings and level of coping and revisit your own stress management strategies. Exercise, listening to music, going for a walk or simply taking to a friend can be very helpful.

If the situation is too overwhelming, seek professional advice by contacting Headspace ( or Lifeline (13 11 14) for free and confidential counselling.

(Source: Australian Catholic University)

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Date Created: December 16, 2015