As Year 12 students start heading towards the stress of the HSC season, they have a whole lot of choices awaiting them, particularly when it comes to finding the right university for their studies. It's important to take the time to walk them through all their options, and you can start by discussing the following questions together.
Is it a good fit, in terms of location and courses?
Some students will thrive in an expansive, bustling university setting. Other students might feel more at home in a smaller, more tight-knit environment. Consider both the size and location of your teenager’s top choices. If coming home regularly is important to them, you’ll want something that is closer or more easily accessible.
You’ll need to consider what they want to study, of course, and the programs, internships and mentorship opportunities available at different universities. You’ll also want to consider their extracurricular interests, which might be athletic, musical or artistic, and whether they’ll have a wide range of opportunities.
Denison University president Adam Weinberg writes for Grown & Flown that fit is the most important consideration:
My advice to parents is to help your child find a [university] where they are likely to quickly “feel at home,” become academically engaged, develop a close mentoring relationship with faculty and other staff, and get involved in co-curricular activities where they will find good friends and develop strong life skills.
If you haven’t already, visit the campus and take a tour. Campus tours are often led by university students and it’s the perfect time to ask the questions you really want to know, such as “What is your favourite and least favourite part about this place?” and “What do students do for fun on the weekends?” and “What is the vibe like in the neighbouring suburbs?”
What will they make of it?
Oftentimes where you go to school is less important than what you do while you’re there. Just because your child doesn’t go to a prestigious university doesn’t mean their career will suffer; however, what will make a difference is making the most of every opportunity while they’re in university.
“How you engage with professors, if you study or if you don’t, if you join an activity, if you get to apply your learning in an internship, all of that matters far more,” said Pope.
Talk also about whether — or how much — they’ll work while they’re in university and what kind of job opportunities exist on or off campus, particularly as it relates to their field of study.