How Important VCE Actually Is to Your Life

If you’re currently completing VCE1 you’ve been told by ex-students, teachers, parents, and most other people that your life is riding on your ATAR2.

VCE is important. It’s just not as important as it’s hyped up to be. You might already believe this. But your belief might not be based on all of the reasons why.

Why VCE Is Important

VCE is the Grand Final of schooling.

You’ve spent 12+ years in school and you’ve only got one more left. Everything has led to this moment and this is your final test. Don’t you want to do well? Even if it’s just to say, “Done! All this effort summed up in this number and I don’t regret a thing.” Don’t you want to be proud of what you’ve achieved?

More significantly, your ATAR is used to get you into higher education. Many universities use your ranking and study scores to determine whether they want you or not. If you know what career you want to get into, and you’ve broken down that goal and determined what ATAR you need to get into the best university for you, then this is the ATAR to strive for.


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Besides recognising the hard work you’ve put into your schooling life, and qualifying for your preferred university course, VCE is whatever you make it out to be. Make it a challenge, make it an opportunity to learn great content from your favourite subjects, or make it the best final year you will have with your friends.

Just don’t let it be your identity. You are not your ATAR, it is simply a ranking of how well you performed against other Victorian students in test environments. Even if you don’t get the ATAR you wanted, consider how much you really wanted it in the first place.

The Popular Reason Why VCE Isn’t Insanely Important

There Are Other Ways into Your Preferred Course

If you fall short of the ATAR required to get straight into your preferred university course, there is always another way to get into it. However, it might take longer.

For example, you can normally get into a similar course offered by a different university or the same university (easier than a different one), get good grades in the subjects you do in your first semester, and ask to transfer to your ideal course.

Most people are aware of this reason but it doesn’t stop them from idolising the ATAR. To me, doing six months of a course that I didn’t plan on doing is a waste of time and money. One semester of university can cost you a few thousand dollars but the value of your time lost here is more significant.

Not getting the ATAR you wanted is not a big deal in a five-year snapshot of your life, but it is costly in the short-term.

The Real Reason VCE Isn’t Insanely Important

How much thought have you given to why you are doing VCE? Why do you do what you do?

The end goal isn’t spoken of much, as far as I have noticed. When you were young you might have asked your parents why you have to go to school. They probably said something along the lines of “to get good marks, to get into a good university, to get into a secure and well-paid job.” I don’t think they would have explained further, so I will.

The job is to bring in money to fund your lifestyle. Having a job backed by higher education and good grades probably sets you above the competition and (at least for now) with lower risk of automation or robots taking your place.

But that’s not how you’re supposed to plan the success of your goals.


If you really want to achieve the lifestyle you desire, you set your goal and work backwards to find out the best path to take now.

And there are other ways to make money to achieve your goal of ‘funding your ideal lifestyle’ than working in a job.

It seems to me that so much importance is placed on VCE and your ATAR because of the assumption that making money can only be done through a career.

I did a survey yesterday that asked recent university graduates about their degree and their current employment. Some questions asked were “Was your degree a prerequisite for your current position?” My answer: No. “Are you using all of the skills you learnt from your degree in your current position?” No. “Could someone less skilled than you be doing an equally good job in your current position?” Yes.

Not achieving an ATAR in school can hold you back if you let it. But if you can learn business skills, investing skills, or both, it doesn’t need to hold you back from living the life you want at all.

  1. the Victorian Certificate of Education

  2. Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank

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