Sampling tertiary study during the high school years

If your child is heading into their last few years of school, you may be wondering how you can prepare them for tertiary study. What you may not know is that your child can sample a tertiary course while they are still at school, or better yet, get a head start on a university degree as part of their senior secondary certificate. We explain your child’s options below.

Join a hobby group or seek work experience

Whether your child is keen on studying creative writing, graphic design, engineering or sport science, there’s likely to be a hobby group they can join to explore their passion. Seeking out work experience opportunities is another great way to sample a field of study — they might try out babysitting to see what it’s like to pursue early childhood education or help out at the local nursing home to get some insight into community services or nursing. Getting involved in an area of study outside of school is generally a good sign that they would enjoy studying the field at tertiary level.

Get started on tertiary study at school

If your child wants to get a head start on tertiary study, there’s no better way than to pursue Vocational Education and Training (VET) or higher education study as part of their senior secondary certificate. Starting a VET qualification is an option in most schools, with students able to pursue a certificate course, get started on an apprenticeship or traineeship, or study at a trade college or Technical Education Centre (TEC). In Victoria, students may elect to complete the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) instead of the VCE. If your child is considering the university route, they may be able to integrate a higher education study into their senior certificate. In most instances, completion of a university subject will count towards their ATAR/OP. If you would like more information about this option, speak to your child’s teachers and year-level coordinator. Your child may need to meet minimum academic requirements in order to commence university-level study.

Try out a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

MOOCs have caused a lot of buzz over the last few years, emerging as a great way for prospective students to try out a field of study at no cost. MOOCs are offered by institutions from around the world, including a number of Australian universities, and have an open-enrolment policy. This means that your child doesn’t need an ATAR or senior secondary qualification to participate. They are completed entirely online, making use of audiovisual technologies to engage students from all over the world. They do not provide academic credit, but some institutions issue completion certificates (usually at a cost to the student). See Good Universities Guide for more information about studying MOOCs in Australia.

Attend institution events and seminars

Giving up nights or weekends to pursue extra study can be taxing, but there are options that require less effort. Tertiary providers hold open days (usually in August and September) and run public events and seminars throughout the year that can give your child a taste of life beyond school. They can expect to be able to tour the campus, speak to course coordinators and students, try out some of the practical elements of their future course and hear experts and academic discuss the perks of working in the field.

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