Your teen is about to enter what is potentially the most stressful time of their school life.
Their whole education so far has come to rest on these moments?每 these final exams. These answer booklets will change the course of their life. Their career and entire future depends on that score. That one number.
Well, that's what your teen might be thinking. But I＊m here to tell you that this magic number might not hold as much power as your teen thinks it does.
I＊m sure while your stressed-out leaver has been preparing for the exam period, you've been stressing with them. But now the time has come. The studying has finished. Exams are well and truly underway.
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And now that there's nothing more to do to prepare, all you can do is support them as best you can and cross your fingers. You might find yourself thinking, 'What happens if they do poorly? What happens if they don＊t receive the mark they need to get into their desired course?'
Your leaver probably doesn＊t want to think about that; not attaining their goal mark straight off the bat may not, in their mind, be an option. Hopefully their school has provided some guidance around this?每 alternative pathways and entryways are very common and there are many options available. But often leavers want that score so badly, they haven＊t considered a backup option.
The lead-up to my own exam period was one of the most significant times of my life. I was stressed, unwell and under-prepared. I was extremely behind in classes and was told I should seriously consider repeating Year 12. But I wanted to at least attempt the exams.
My determination was strong, and I passed the exams 每 achieving the ATAR I'd aimed for. It was considerably lower than my friends＊ results, but I knew I had to stop comparing. Considering how hard my year had been, I was overjoyed with my hard-won results.
Sasha (right) with a friend at graduation. Image: Provided
I enrolled in university in my desired course for the next year and went for two and a half years, until I decided I needed a "gap semester".
This was fine. I＊d been told by university advisors I could come back when, and if, I wanted to.
Turns out, I didn＊t want to. I started working part-time in a different industry, and grew to love it. I changed my course and my university. I started afresh?每 my career path taking a completely different turn.
Maybe in another few years, I'll change my mind again. And that＊s okay too. Did you know the average Australian is likely to change career around five times in their lifetime?每 with up to 17 different jobs? Times have changed since the days when people went to university, studied a single course and then stayed in one job for their whole life.
Your teen probably won＊t want to hear all this. I know I didn＊t?每 when you have a passion for something, it feels like there's no other option.
I started working part-time in a different industry, and grew to love it. Image: Provided
All you can do is support their decisions, encourage perseverance and hard work and offer advice when plans don＊t run as smoothly as they had hoped.
Remind them that even though they love something now, they might not forever. Remind them it＊s okay to change their mind, and it＊s okay not to know exactly what they want, either.
ATAR is just a ranking. It's not a measure of intelligence. And it＊s not the end of the world.
One size does not fit all when graduating from school. At 17, you're still getting to know yourself as a person. At such a young age, you can＊t be expected to know exactly what you want to do. It＊s a time for experimenting and learning. There's so much out there to try to experience and nothing should be ruled out. Every leaver is individual and shouldn＊t be pressured to follow the norm if they don＊t want to.
There's a chance they might accidentally fall into something else they love?每 something not even on their radar?每 as they anxiously await the number they believe determines their fate.