Leaving secondary school and stepping into the adult world can be a confusing time for any teenager, but with some careful planning and research the transition is bound to be a lot easier.
Although helping your teenager figure out where his or her interests lie is a good start, choosing a path of study is just the first step. Here are five other important points to discuss with your teenager as they prepare to leave school.
Where do you want to study?
Making a decision about where to study will be easier for students who have something very specific in mind, as the learning institution that offers the best program will likely be at the top of their list.
However, it is still important to look at all the options, as some young people may not feel comfortable moving to a large bustling city far from home, straight out of high school. If this is so, it might be worth finding out if there are local universities that offer comparable programs or, even looking into options that provide a more gradual transition into higher learning like VET or TAFE.
Studying abroad is another option you may want to discuss. It can provide your teen with some valuable life experience along with the opportunity to travel whilst they complete their studies.
A few of the things you will need to know include whether or not they are eligible to study abroad, whether the study abroad credit is transferable and what the program costs will be. You can start your research at Study Overseas, which is a great source of information for students with an interest in studying abroad.
Part time or full time study?
Aside from the choice between TAFE and university, your teenager will also have the option to study either full time or part time. There are a few important things to look at when making this decision, including workload and cost.
The main difference between full time and part time study is the number of units or subjects taken per semester. For instance, a full time student would likely be required to take three or four subjects each semester, which would be about 30 to 40 hours a week.
A part time student, on the other hand, might only need to take one or two subjects each semester, which amounts to about 10 to 20 hours a week.
Another consideration is the cost. Studying part time will affect Austudy and Youth Allowance, and while part time programs are more flexible and affordable, they’ll also take longer to complete. Help your teen take a realistic look at their weekly commitments, including work, study, social and family life so they can make a well informed decision.
What is your financial situation like?
One important thing to look at when choosing an education provider and making a decision between full time or part time study is financing.
Some universities and higher education providers in Australia are subsidised by the government and students will only be required to pay student contributions towards their education. Others require students to pay the full tuition fees, but they may still be eligible for government assistance.
Aside from financing their studies, students will also need to consider living expenses, so try to sit down with and discuss financing options and create a realistic budget that will help them monitor and manage their money wisely.
What can you do to gain real-world experience?
Along with education, employers value the type of meaningful professional experience that can be gained through volunteer work, internships, traineeships or apprenticeships.
This is where part time study can be beneficial, because it gives students more time to gain the experience they need to transition from study to work.
Even full time students can find ways to gain experience. Some university and TAFE courses even include student placements that enable students to work in the industry as part of their course. When choosing a study program, it’s a good idea to look at whether any such options are available.
Is a gap year right for you?
If after looking at all the options your teen still has no idea what he or she wants to study, a gap year could be just what they need.
Although many parents are initially concerned that taking time off might cause their teen to put off tertiary education indefinitely, research shows that students who take a gap year actually tend to be more motivated during their studies than their peers who jump straight into university after secondary school.
The biggest advantage of a gap year is that it gives teenagers time and space to develop their interests, broaden their horizons and identify goals and ambitions, so when they eventually do choose a career path, it’s often a much better fit.
There are plenty of useful things teenagers can do while taking time off from studying, whether it’s volunteering and travelling abroad or working and gaining valuable experience, so if you think a gap year could benefit your teen, visit Youth Central to get more information on potential programs.
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About the Author
Marianne Stenger is a freelance journalist with many years of years of experience writing for various publications, online resources and blogs in the education industry. She believes that online education is the way of the future and is passionate about promoting online learning tools. Marianne is a writer for Open Colleges’ Careers website, part of Australia's leading online resources centre. Her interests lie in educational psychology, and she covers everything from learning tips and the latest research in education to online learning tools and the use of new technologies in the classroom.
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