graduation, Australia
Students celebrate graduating at Southbank Convention Centre, Brisbane, Australia. Source: Shutterstock

Every year, thousands of Australian students sit in school halls across the country at the end of the year to sit exams that will determine whether or not they will get into university.

One high achiever was Daniel Hu – who was awarded an Australian Tertiary Attainment Rank (ATAR) score of 99.85 out of a possible 99.95: He wrote a letter thanking his parents in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Having just completed the Higher School Certificate (HSC) – the university entrance exams sat by students in the State of New South Wales – the Sydney Boys High School alumni dedicated his success to the hard work of his parents who had migrated from China.

“I am incredibly proud of my achievements, considering where I came from. And I owe this success all to my parents. They are the true high achievers,” wrote Hu, who described his dad having worked as a cleaner during the day and assisting him with school work at night.

“My parents are the most selfless, loving and supportive in the world. I didn’t understand their sacrifices initially. I hated being poor. I hated being bullied by others because I was poor. I was one of the only Year 12 students at Sydney Boys who did not have a school blazer or jersey,” he said.

“During my HSC year, my dad was hospitalised and underwent multiple surgeries due to illness caused by juggling so many jobs to pay for our living expenses and for me to have a proper education in Australia.”

The ATAR system, which is the primary determinant of which university course high school graduates can enter in Australia, has been criticised for putting unnecessary pressure on teenagers at too young an age.

“You can argue that the HSC system is not beneficial for students. And you can argue that the ATAR is insignificant and should not define you,” said Hu, whose marks meant he entered a prestigious government honour roll.

“But for me, it is a path to university and a stable job so that I can make sure my kids get an even better education and life.”

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