Helping your child make those big decisions - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Parent Lounge Update

Helping your child make those big decisions

9 Oct 2019

At this time of the Year 12 school year, there are decisions being made about future study and it can feel like these are big questions about the rest of your child’s life. Sound daunting? It can be.

But as a parent, you can help.

How do you help your child choose a degree?

You can help your child by talking with them about what they might like to do - and I know parents have already had those conversations - but now, ‘the future’ seems just that little bit closer, so another chat will help.

I encouraged my children to choose a degree based on something they loved. One child knew from the moment they first looked down a microscope, when they were about 10, that science was for them. My other children - not so much, they took a little longer to choose.

I felt it was important to remind my children that the decisions they made in Year 12 about future study, did not mean they would have to continue with that career for the rest of their life. I am not saying that you should encourage your child to make a flippant decision about university study, but I think supporting them to realise that they will always have choices helped take off some pressure. It worked for our family, anyway.

How to list preferences?

When choosing university preferences, your child should list what they would like to study at universities they have visited. I encouraged my children to fill out all six preferences, so that if they didn’t get their first choice, they might get their second, third or so on. That way, if they were accepted into a university with their second or third preference, they could build up their Grade Point Average (GPA) and maybe change program to their first preference - and I know of students who have done just that. But if your child only puts down one preference, and they miss out, they might not even get a university offer.

USC’s Tertiary Preparation Pathway is always a good ‘back up’ option. It’s a free program that can help students meet any prerequisite study (subjects that students need to have completed to gain entry into a degree). It’s also a good start for students who might not be feeling confident to go straight into a full degree.

Should my child defer?

Whether deferring is best for your child is a whole other topic, but even if your child is thinking of taking a gap year, get them to apply for university and then defer, so they will have a university place waiting for them. Why? To keep their options open. I speak from personal experience - I deferred before I first went to university. USC students can defer their degree for up to two years.

There is a 101 day ‘mini gap year’ between the last day of Year 12 and the first day of the USC semester. And USC has created the 101 Day Gap Year: a series of YouTube videos showing the fun and productive things your child can do during this time.

If your child is set on taking a longer break, they can look at whether they may be able to start their degree in Semester 2 and don’t forget, there are many opportunities for students to study overseas if your child is itching to see the world.

Is it too late to apply?

Sure, there are specific dates which are preferable for your application, but it is never too late to apply for university. Check out the QTAC website.

What if my child starts a degree and changes their mind?

That will be ok. Sometimes students will choose a degree and then discover it is not exactly for them. Your child can always change their mind. I have a child who did a complete change in their degree after they had started at university. It wasn’t a problem to change, and they received credit for some of the subjects they had already completed.

So, help your child make those big decisions, and then watch them head off into their amazing future.

About Dr Janet Lee

Dr Janet Lee received her Doctorate of Creative Arts from USC. She is also mum to four children who have all completed (or are completing) their undergraduate degrees at USC. Janet lives on the Sunshine Coast with two dogs, some very spoilt chickens and her wonderful, noisy family. Janet is a regular contributor to USC's Parent Lounge.

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