Karen Lomas
December 31, 2016

Helping with course preference change.

Meet Karen your career coach

It’s been a busy few weeks helping with course preference change. So many parents, or students themselves, have contacted me this year, when their VCE results were released, for a range of reasons, and driven by anxiety and the urgency of the process.

  • Many were looking for help because they did so well. Better than they had expected in terms of their Study Scores and ATAR, which was interesting and quite thrilling!
  • Some had options, but not all of those options allowed them to defer and travel, so they were looking for clarity around their decision after having spent a while looking at Gap Year programs.
  • One or two were completely unsure, meaning that what they had down as preferences were simply stabs in the dark. They had very little understanding of the course content at all. Indeed, I found this to be the case with most of my young clients.

How is it that so many year 12 students are so unsure of their potential pathways as late as December of their final year of compulsory education? I found that the one and a half hours of a typical first session was much needed with them all. I put it down to a number of factors:

  1. Very few had been employed in a casual/part-time job, so they didn’t really have much of an understanding of what kinds of jobs they might prefer.
  2. Equally, so few had had the opportunity to do a work experience placement. This used to be offered in year 10 to most year 10 students, but government safety regulations are frightening off potential employers as well as school principals. Nobody wants to take any risks around allowing young people to participate in even the most benign work environments.
  3. Some, but not all, had completed a careers questionnaire, such as Morrisby Online, Strong Interest Inventory, or Careers Fast Track, in year 10. Those that had done this could remember very little about the results/report and could not find the report. The students therefore lacked understanding about their aptitudes, preferences, values.
  4. Few students were able to navigate the VTAC website, had not been given the link to the smart phone app and did not remember having researched courses using courselink.
  5. Even those who had done some research into courses, and had an idea of what they might like to study could not explain how different courses of the same ilk, at different universities, varied in terms of content. Some therefore had completely the wrong idea about the units of study in their first year of tertiary study.

From March to May of 2016 my work was around helping students who had deferred or indeed dropped-out of their course of first preference. This is very disappointing, but unsurprising based on what I have experienced with my clients this month. The problem with starting a course you don’t like is that you then waste time and potentially money in then having to reapply for either mid-year entry, or commencement in the following academic year. The young people I saw back then were really confused, disillusioned and anxious.

So making time to gain clarity around aptitudes and preferences is really worth while. I really enjoy helping with preference changes, but it is better to be taking action earlier on, say starting in year 10. I can work with your child in helping them to see the value in part-time employment and how to conduct an effective job search. The strategies they will learn will make them strong and independent career managers. These skills will develop and will help them across their career-life.

Talk to me about helping your child with course preference change help.

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