For Ella Taylor, studying year 12 during a global pandemic was not the senior school experience she had anticipated.
As a Gold Coast local, Ella was also part of the first cohort of students in Queensland to graduate under the ATAR system in 2020.
“When the new system was introduced no one really knew what subjects to do or how they would be scaled so I just picked subjects I enjoyed,” Ella, 18, said.
“While I did end up receiving As and Bs in my subjects, I somehow didn’t get the ATAR I needed for nursing but thankfully Southern Cross University offered me a place in the free Transition to Uni course which is an intensive pathway to studying a degree.
“The course was actually really good. I was able to study it over the summer. It focussed on things like academic literacy, writing, referencing, numeracy and science as well, which was great.
“The course was fully online and it was so well thought-out. The tutors were there whenever we needed help and even though it was an intensive course it was very manageable.
“Completing Transition to Uni meant I was able to enrol in the Bachelor of Nursing at Southern Cross. I also have a job and have started volunteering at a local hospital as a children’s entertainer.”
I’ve wanted to be a nurse since maybe year 10. I just really like helping people and I care a lot. So year 12 obviously was really hard because it was the first year that we have ever done ATAR before so we didn't really know how the subjects would be scaled and our school kind of just said to do the subjects that we enjoy and that we knew we'd do well in.
So that's what I did and I got good marks, got As and Bs but the subjects that I did were scaled quite low. So I didn't get the ATAR I wanted and I applied for early entry at Southern Cross Uni and they came back with an offer for ‘Transition to Uni’.
It was actually really good, the tutors were really understanding and they understood that we had work and some people in there had kids, so they were really understanding. We'd attend our lectures and then we had a little online page where we could go and study extra for our assessments. So through one of the subjects, academic literacies, we were able to learn how to reference manually and write annotated bibliographies and essays and especially with the science as well.
I didn't do science in high school so I felt already like I was kind of a step behind but with ‘Transition to Uni’ I got the basis knowledge that I needed to know so when I came into anatomy and physiology I was caught up and I knew what everyone was talking about. It was really good to know that I wouldn't be put behind and that I was up there and knew everything that everyone else knew. It was so exciting I was so happy like I finally finished.
It was like a little mini graduation, I was so excited and I was ready to start nursing because I was finally able to do what I wanted to do at start. So it was kind of a bit of relief. Obviously, I was disappointed when I opened my ATAR but considering the marks that I got I kind of focused on that rather than the ATAR because it goes away after a while anyway, and there's always like a pathway that you can choose to get through to where you want to go.
Transition to Uni is a free six-week course that runs online in January, preparing students for university study, so they are ready for the main degree intake in March across Southern Cross University campuses at Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Gold Coast.
Ella says Transition to Uni has not only allowed her to get where she wanted to be, it also meant she could meet other like-minded students at uni before starting the first day of her Bachelor degree.
One such student was her classmate Ebony Campbell, who also enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing.
“While we were studying Transition to Uni we got to know each other through our online classes and group assignments. When we realised there were a few of us who had all elected to study nursing, we made a group chat to keep in contact and meet up on our first day on campus,” friend Ebony Campbell, 18, said.
“It was so good to have someone there we already knew. It was way less nerve-wracking on the first day.”
For Ebony, senior high school also didn’t go quite to plan. In Year 11 she was working towards an ATAR, but then an unexpected move to NSW meant some of her subjects didn’t match up at her new school and ended up graduating year 12 without an ATAR.
“In grade 11 I figured out I wanted to do nursing because I really enjoy helping people and it’s a good career choice and also enables you travel and to branch into other careers,” she said.
“Year 12 was a bit of a crappy year. It was a rollercoaster, but thankfully after I applied for STAR Early Offer at Southern Cross Uni, and ended up getting an offer to study Transition to Uni.
“It was a very beneficial pathway and it allowed me to get into Uni without having an ATAR.
“Transition to Uni was really good to be honest. The tutors are lovely and helped out a lot.
“It’s a pathway to university I definitely recommend to other students who didn’t get the ATAR they needed, or perhaps who didn’t get an ATAR at all.
“I tell year 12 students: Don’t give up, there are pathways to university.”
Transition to Uni is delivered through Southern Cross University’s award-winning SCU College, which gives students access to additional personalised support.
Course Coordinator Dr Liz Goode said Transition to Uni provides students who did not receive the ATAR they were hoping for an opportunity to start university with their peers.
Students who are concerned about not achieving the required Year 12 results can apply for Transition to Uni, which, when successfully completed, will guarantee a place in any degree or Diploma at Southern Cross.*
*Note: Midwifery requires an additional interview process; students who want to apply for Engineering need to achieve a Distinction or higher in UNIP1007 Scientific and Quantitative Concepts for University Study.
Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794, email@example.com