As a teenager Jakob Lowry dreamed of a career in the military, but when he was medically discharged after just two months he had to find another pathway toward a different goal.
Having completed an unscored VCE, he took a working gap year and began an apprenticeship as a glazier before realising his dreams of joining the defence force.
Without an ATAR though, he couldn't go straight in to a university course.
Instead he completed a Certificate III in Digital Media Technology and is now in his second year of a Bachelor of Information Technology at Federation University.
With year 12 ATAR scores released in three weeks, Mr Lowry wants graduating students to know there is more than one way to pursue your goals and your results don't dictate what you can or can't do.
"There are so many different pathways that students can use to do what they want," he said. "There's always a way to get in to what you want, whether it's through TAFE or fast program pathways in to other courses.
"It's just an extra year as far as a lot of the courses, and now I'm working in the field as well as studying."
Federation University education expert Associate Professor Kurt Seemann said the challenges of remote learning during the global pandemic had impacted some students and subject areas, more than others.
While many students thrived in a wholly online environment, others found it difficult, and for them this could mean a lower ATAR than they were hoping for.
As a result, Dr Seemann predicted this year would see a broader range of ATAR results, but students who did not get the ATAR they wanted would still be able to find a pathway to university.
"Year 12 students have had a tough couple of years and it's really important that they know it's not the end of the world if they don't get the ATAR result they were hoping for."
"At Federation University, we understand how difficult it has been - we've experienced similar challenges ourselves - and we are here to support them to achieve their dreams."
Federation offers a six-month Foundation Access Studies (FAST) program, which guarantees students an offer of a place in a Federation degree, and students can also do a Certificate III or higher in a relevant study area from Federation TAFE or another Victorian TAFE, which will give them the entry requirements (and credit) into a degree.
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The latter is the path Mr Lowry took and he's further changed his goals since starting the Bachelor of IT last year.
"Initially I wanted to do game development but during the Bachelor of IT the first year is very generalised - networking, security, data and analytics, gaming - and I found I really enjoy data and analytics and that's where I'm looking to end up after I complete the course," he said.
"Game development is quite enjoyable and I really like the 3D modelling aspect, but it's very hard to get in to. I really enjoy data analytics and there's a huge demand because almost any business you can think of will need it"
Federation University also offers more than $5 million in scholarships include support for high performing students and those relocating to regional Victoria, as well as women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and students studying in growth industries.