How to support your child through Year 12 and choosing a uni

An education for children is an education for their parents. Evelyn Tilley is the mother of two daughters, one in Year 11 and one in her third year of a Bachelor of Arts at Deakin. When her first child went through Year 12 there was a lot to learn.

'We had to get our heads around what an SAC (School Assessed Coursework) was and the way it was assessed. And the importance of each task for each subject.'

Year 12 and the transition into 'the real world' is a big step in anyone's life. Some students will find it daunting, challenging or, let's face it, downright terrifying. All students will benefit from their parents' or guardians' support during this high-pressured time.

And the best way you can tailor your support to your child's needs is to understand what they're going through.

Stay informed

Evelyn attended many school information nights, which she says helped immensely. 'We were keen to be "up with things" so our daughter knew we were on this VCE journey with her.'

Together they learnt that organisation and time management were key to Year 12 success. Folio subjects, for example, need ongoing commitment throughout the year, to avoid 'rush and stress' when end-of-year exams loom. Evelyn says it helps for students to get onto folio work early 'and keep at it every week'.

She says she was 'astounded' by the overall workload of Year 12. 'There always seemed to be something due.' To manage the many deadlines, her daughter found it helped to prioritise her tasks on a weekly basis.

Support their passion

When it came time for Evelyn’s daughter to choose a university course, her parents encouraged her choose something she was passionate about. 'Three or more years of study can be long, difficult and uninspiring if the motivation for the content or career path is simply not there,' Evelyn says.

Attend Open Days

Open Days are a great way for prospective students to get a feeling for a university, learn more about the courses on offer, meet staff and students, and hear firsthand about campus life.

'The more information the better,' Evelyn says. 'Then they can truly see what they want or don’t want in a uni or course.'

She attended Open Days at two different universities with her daughter. 'We wanted to be part of the research process so we could discuss the subjects and courses she was interested in with her. There was also a fair bit of online research done on universities we hadn’t attended.'

One of the Open Days they went to was Deakin Burwood. Evelyn says her daughter knew it was right for her as soon as she stepped foot on campus. 'She liked the vibe (and) the subjects on offer in the arts degree were interesting to her.'

Talk to staff and students

Evelyn and her daughter went to a few of Deakin's Open Day seminars and were impressed with its 'young and progressive' energy.

They picked up some handbooks – 'great sources of information… when you are sitting at home with your child discussing options' – and took tours with current students who ‘know the place and are very keen to share their experiences.'

Talking with students who are studying or have studied in your child's area of interest can be particularly insightful. Her daughter 'chatted to a few ambassadors at the arts stand, which helped her understand how her degree could look.'

Evelyn also suggests reading the subject content and talking to the course advisors, 'so they can ensure you have the correct number of units to fulfil your minor and major requirements.' Getting onto this early can lessen confusion down the track.

Listen to your child

Evelyn believes the most important thing you can do is listen to your child. 'After all it's their career pathway.'

Her experience has made her more open-minded, she says, and has taught her to listen to her daughter's wants and needs.

'Don't worry about what everyone else's child is doing or what their older sibling has done or which uni they have heard is "the best" for this or for that. Your child is on their own path and they will choose what feels right for them.'

And remember, says Evelyn, where they start may not be where they finish. Some students will change courses or universities midway through a degree 'when they're a little clearer (about) what they're interested in.'

Be flexible, Evelyn adds. 'No decision is set in concrete.'

'The bottom line is that they will feel better knowing they have your support,' she says.

Finishing high school and starting university can be a wild ride. The best thing you can do for your child is share the journey.

To find out more about tomorrow's opportunities today visit Deakin's four campuses on Open Day.