4 December 2018
It has been over ten years since my first student finished high school and there have been three other students finish since. All of them have chosen further study at university and I have shared a lot of milkshakes with them along the way.
If I was to go back in time, this is the advice I would give to the ‘my student has just finished high school’ me.
Every journey is different
Each student will travel their own path in their own way. You can support them on the journey, you can walk beside them, but you can’t do it for them. Some students will have a clear idea of what they want to study…others… not so much. Sit down and share a milkshake with them and help them make their choices, support them with what they decide, but always remember it is their decision.
There's many paths to the same destination
If your student doesn’t get the university offer they want, or they want to take a ‘gap’ year, it will be OK. There are many different paths to university and there are people who will help your student get the advice to choose the right path for them.
There many be changes along the way
If your student gets the university offer they want, starts and then finds this study choice is not for them, that will be OK. Your child can change their degree and they may even gain credit for the subjects they have already finished.
Uni is different and that's OK
University life might take some settling in, for both you and your student. The first few weeks, the first semester, or even the first year is a big change from school-based learning, as university students take charge and manage their own study. The years studying at university will be fabulous and fun, but there will also be assignments, exam nerves, and often periods of stress and worry. Always remember the university wants your student to succeed and help is available. You can be your student’s chief cheerleader and encourager.
Be there to support
Your student is an adult making their own way in the world and the path they travel is their path, not yours. Honestly, for me this was the hardest thing to learn. As a parent I needed to step back and let them power ahead or stumble as they went on their way. I could not walk the path for them, I just needed to be there with a chocolate milkshake and a listening ear. (OK. university student son has just read this and said it is a ridiculous comment because everyone knows the best milkshakes are strawberry, so clearly, I am still a parent with a lot to learn.)
But mostly, I would tell the ‘my student has just finished high school’ me that the university years will pass quickly and before you know it, your student will be graduating and you will be in the audience weeping and bursting with pride.
Knowing that every strawberry milkshake played a part.
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.