Two years ago I began Open to Success because I had witnessed, first hand, the disillusion of  students as they found themselves on a tertiary pathway that did not meet their expectations. I was committed then, to developing a simple, coaching strategy to assist students in making decisions they would stick with, rather than drop out of Uni or change courses in their first year.

I am still going two years later, having spoken in schools and coached my clients to a point where they feel confident moving forward. However, too few year 12 students are doing the work that is needed to fully understand the requirements of a course, to determine whether they are a good fit. Often parents are left to do the worrying and the questioning. Having seen three sons (almost) through 10 years of University, I not only share your pain as parents but having been involved with University students for many years,I also can see into the future. The attrition rate for first years sat at about 20% in 2018 and that is a consistent statistic and not expected to change. Yes. It’s natural that some will make the wrong decision about study and career but I am sure that most parents would  prefer they didn’t, particularly as it is going to cost them and/or their children dearly the more they dither?

So now, as COVID dictates many student plans for 2021, it’s time to follow the Take HEART acronym. It’s something that can be done alone, with parents or with friends.

H – is think with your heart as well as your head. What feeds your soul? Write it down.

E – write a list of things/subjects you find easy to do – even if they don’t constitute something that you would study.

A – assess your skills case. What skills do you already have that could act as a foundation for your studies? What subjects do you do well at?

R – do your research. Know what courses are available, where they can be studied and how much they cost. Do a cost analysis. Will you leave home or live at home? Will you be able to access government support? Who will pay? Will you pay up front or access HECS?

T – Finally, equipped with information about yourself, look at some courses, and  seek out opportunities for real life experiences. Scrolling through websites on line can never equal talking to a professional or spending a day in work experience.

The government announcements about fee hikes does not change this process. The most important step comes next – with a reconciliation of what a student loves with what is possible, affordable, achievable and will bring a good return. It’s not always possible for us to pursue our dreams from the ‘get go’ but if we know what they are, at the very least, we can still see them on the horizon. It might seem like a roller coaster but making a plan for the future gives us hope and instills optimism for a secure future.