Look beyond the HSC and stay positive, says educational psychologist

Date: 17/12/2002

A University of Western Sydney educational psychologist is reminding HSC students it isn't the end of the world if they don't get the marks they need to get into university.

Dr Andrew Martin from the University's Self-Concept Enhancement and Learning Facilitation (SELF) research centre says that although the HSC is a very important exam and the most direct path to university, there are alternative entry options for school leavers.

"Students who don't get the UAI score they were hoping for will obviously feel disappointed, but they shouldn't feel their chosen career is beyond their reach," Dr Martin says.

"It's important to remember that the past doesn't necessarily predict the future, and if students are resourceful and persistent, they can achieve their goals.

"Students should focus their energy on finding solutions, rather than the problem. Keeping an open mind will empower students and give them hope and optimism."

Dr Martin says for those keen to get into university, there are several alternate pathways.

"Some TAFE courses or workforce experience may earn students credit towards university admission. Adult education or open learning courses are also options, while some institutions offer single subjects in associate student programs which can count towards enrolment," Dr Martin says.

"Students should always talk to universities to see if any of these options are applicable for the degree they want to study.

"Some institutions offer year-long bridging courses, and the University Admissions Centre (UAC) has a special tertiary admissions tests in English and Maths."

Dr Martin believes a positive mental attitude can help students find the best way out of a situation.

"Don't be bluffed by fears of what your future may hold if you didn't get the UAI mark you needed. Take control of the situation, and don't let a setback deter you," he says.

Dr Martin says parents also have a critical role to play during this stressful time.

"Some students may feel they've fallen short of their parents' expectations, especially if there's been pressure to make it to university," Dr Martin says.

"Parents should offer to talk through their son or daughter's concerns, and support them as they choose their next step. Although parents will have hopes and ambitions for their child, they should also recognise their children's desires and goals and give due regard for what they want."

He says while many students will already be looking to the future, it's also important they enjoy their time off.

"Students need to let their hair down and recharge their batteries after the pressures of the HSC. They should try not to stress too much about how they performed in their exams," Dr Martin says.


* The NSW HSC results will be released to the NSW Board of Studies via the Telephone Results Service and the Board of Studies website on Thursday December 19, while the UAI results will be released by the Universities Admissions Centre on Friday December 20.

Several websites have been set up as starting points for those students seeking alternate pathways to university. These sites also have useful information about apprenticeships and training or employment. Try Beyond the HSC on http://www.hsc.csu.edu.au/beyond/ or the University Admissions Centre on http://www.uac.edu.au

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