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Friday, 14 December 2018

What I learnt from the HSC

I honestly believe the parents have turned the HSC year into a nightmare for most students. The expectation that they must go to Uni, the idea that the ATAR is so important and that it's the only thing that matters. Here are a few things I've learnt over the last year.

1. Two Universities mentioned that only 26% of students get in on ATAR. That to me also said that 74% get in some other way. So I started looking at the other ways, and let me tell you, there are plenty! In year 11 start checking out the Uni websites. There are scholarships and many early entry options. My daughter had one early entry offer prior to sitting the HSC, then got 2 more offers, all prior to receiving her ATAR. She did get guaranteed entry to the University of her choice with her ATAR, but there were options already there if she didn't. As I always say, you want options. If you have a choice, then it's your decision.

2. When the marks come out, celebrate the HSC day. Those HSC marks really don't mean anything (they're just numbers that look good and add up all together to a big number) so celebrate those. Even with a good ATAR, a lot of kids are disappointed because they didn't meet their expectation, so better if you're already had the celebration the day before.

3. Once you get in to Uni, or decide you aren't going to Uni, the HSC doesn't mean anything. And the ATAR is irrelevant. So breathe easy.

4. You want to travel or work straight from school, get that dream happening as quickly as possible. Satisfaction and self esteem (and drive) will thrive if you do. Not to mention you'll be getting real money. There's no need not to start working straight after exams.

5. If you want to go to TAFE or learn a trade, there are great options where you are paid to do the course. Track those down. It's just as good getting paid to learn as paying to learn. (Hint, it's actually better to be paid - they already see your potential).

6. If others don't see the value in what you want to do, hold your ground, keep your head high and prove them wrong. There are no jobs better than other jobs if they make you happy. Don't believe anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.

7. Don't be scared if you don't have a dream. Just apply yourself to whatever the job is in front of you. There used to be a word meaning to travel purposefully toward an as-yet-unknown destination. It's Coddiwomple. Do that.

8. You don't have to wait until you reach your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud (and celebrate) every step you take. (quote from Karen Salmansohn).

9. If you like it, it doesn't feel like work. Maybe that's what you need to look for in a career path. And when you don't like it, maybe you change path. What you decide to do now, may (and probably will) change. What you actually start to do now, doesn't send you to an unalterable destination.

10. Always remember, opportunity dances with those already on the dancefloor. There is no right path, but you do need to get moving!

Last one is for the parents. You love your child but they aren't you. What you think is important might be irrelevant to them. Or they might need time to work out what makes them tick. When talking stress to a GP, she said 'I didn't get the mark I wanted out of school, and I couldn't get into the course I wanted to do, and I didn't even want to be a doctor. I started a different course, transferred into my course and realised I hated it. THAT was the moment I realised I wanted to do medicine.' Our measure of success applies to us alone. Everyone else has their own yardstick.

Good luck to future students, and to those starting out on their futures, remember the world is your oyster. Enjoy the exciting time of possibilities. Job satisfaction is the measure of success. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make that happen.

Linking with #Lifethisweek very late, due to ongoing lack of Internet with the NBN. Fun times. Will try to read some of the other posts but can't promise how long this window will last....


  1. This is such brilliant advice. As a student, I could never see the point of my high school exams, they were a means to an end to get into uni and after that they were pretty much redundant. No one wants to know about them anymore! As for getting into uni, there are actually a lot of other (and sometimes a lot easier) ways to get in. As an adult, I am even more convinced about the futility of exams, even at degree level! I rarely get asked about my degree either at job interviews because at the end of the day what really matters is you and your experience. Every parent needs to read this post!

    1. It's funny how no one cares about your marks pretty much by march. Cos my kid is in to the course she wanted, her marks are totally irrelevant as of now!!

  2. All of that. Every single HSC parent needs to read this. A friend in Sydney was telling me that her kids school (which I won't mention) held and evening at the beginning of the HSC year where the kids and parents were taken off into separate rooms and pretty much lectured about how this was the most important year of their lives blah blah blah. Afterwards my friend took her son, who by now was rattled and said "everything you just heard, forget." It truly makes my blood boil. An ATAR gets you into a Uni...sometimes...and that is the last time anyone cares about it. What matters is your experience and how you interact with and approach the world. The HSC is archaic and needs to be radically changed - for the sake of our kids. Soapbox away now.

    1. I actually don't have a problem with the HSC itself, but what the parents (and I'm one of them - or I was) have done with it is absurd. We need to dial it back so the kids don't implode with stress. And we also need to get our thinking in order so our kids aren't shamed by their career choice - which in this day and age, post feudal system, seems insane....

  3. Hear, hear! Thank you for the wisdom and perspective. I've only just begun the journey of schooling with my son but it is so intense already. It's hard not to get caught up in it and to also remember that 'success' as a person is so much more than marks. Even in the work place at the other end of school and uni - you need persistence, patience, people skills and a willingness to start from the bottom. Being entitled rarely gets you far.

    SSG xxx

    1. The getting 'caught up' seems to be the thing. It's very easy to have those conversations...(and I did too for a fair while). We need to rewire our thinking back to common sense.

  4. Ah you are so wise. Thanks for that reality check. It is so much better to see what the kids actually enjoy instead of getting them to fulfil a parent's dream.

    Thank you for your connections & comments on #lifethisweek in 2018. It has been fun and I welcome you back in 2019. Next week's optional prompt is "We Made It". The last one in 2018. Denyse x