NOT HELPING: Stressed students don’t need to be told all their hard work will ultimately be for nothing.
NOT HELPING: Stressed students don’t need to be told all their hard work will ultimately be for nothing.

OPINION: Stop saying ‘your OP doesn’t really matter’

HIGH school results may not mean much to some but to others, they mean an awful lot.

The well-meaning people who assure stressed out high school students "no one really cares about your OP anyway" no doubt think they're helping.

Often they're doing the exact opposite.

For those students who have their hearts set on a career that requires a university qualification, the OP (well, ATAR, from now on) absolutely matters.

Telling them their high school results don't really mean anything in the long-term runs the risk of diminishing their efforts and discounting something they have worked for years to achieve.

The motivation behind these platitudes is admirable.

It's a way of reminding students not to be unnecessarily anxious.

They are not, after all, defined by this one result and of course there are other options if university plans don't work out immediately.

At this stage in their lives, however, as they take the first, perilous steps into adulthood, this result can mean the world.

It's also worth noting the "it doesn't count for anything in the long run" brigade are almost exclusively concerned with professional achievement.

Sure, perhaps future bosses won't ask about your ATAR in a job interview.

Still, why isn't academic excellence considered an achievement in and of itself?

The students who score well at high school are no better or more worthy of praise than those who don't but they should be congratulated for their results on their own merit.

We are early in the school year, with many Fraser Coast students already in the thick of their final year of high school.

Not all of them will have their eyes fixed on university, of course.

For those who do, or those who simply value academia for its own sake, let's do better than simply telling them "it doesn't matter".


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