Surviving and thriving the HSC

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5 Things HSC Students Need to Hear from their Parents

It’s the last term of school for HSC students, the pointy end of this gruelling year, and the end is nigh.

Or so it can seem for many parents!

Having a child doing the HSC can be a confusing and stressful time for parents. It can be bewildering to know exactly how to support your child, how to encourage them to study without pushing them too far, and how to support their dreams but also stay realistic.

In this last term of your child’s Year Twelve, what exactly do they need to hear from you?
Post-HSC students and their teachers told us what they wished they’d known and heard from their biggest supporters, their parents.

1. You have lots of options.

As a HSC student, it can sometimes feel like your world shrinks down to those three letters and your entire future rests on one single number, your final ATAR.

Speaking to post-HSC students, many said they wished they’d know how many options they had. They’d heard again and again, “you are more than your marks” but they didn’t know practically just how many options there are out there.

There are many universities offering a huge variety of courses. There are TAFE courses and trade apprenticeships. Even if your child doesn’t get the marks they want, there are always backdoors, side doors, patio-doors. Your kids need to hear that, while the HSC is important, as one parent pointed out, “there are so many pathways out there to success and success looks different for everyone.”

2. Marks don’t really matter but hard work does.

While there are lots of options out there, the HSC is a great opportunity to put in the hard work that bears fruit later. Many careers today require undergraduate or graduate degrees and it’s often a lot easier when you have the good marks to get there.

Of course, no HSC student wants to hear about how they need to work harder but very often, it’s still what they need to hear. That’s why it’s a great idea to focus on their effort — which they can control — rather than their results.

Years and years later, I still remember my own parents saying they were more impressed by my regular study schedule (however distracted I was!) than by my final marks. They praised me for working hard in that crucial period and that helped me to succeed in the long run.

3. Get some sleep and live a little!

It can be tempting for students to feel like they need to put everything on hold because of the HSC. For some, this means pulling all-nighters, spending fruitless hours at the library, or constantly using junk food as a reward for studying.

Encourage your kids to take care of themselves: get an eight-hour night’s sleep, eat fruit everyday, and keep playing sport. Regular exercise, healthy eating and taking active breaks from studying are well-known to help reduce stress, regulate emotions, and make the time your kids spend studying more productive.

But also tell them it’s a good idea to enjoy a break with friends and blow off some steam as well. HSC students need to know that “self care is important, take a break to do something fun or relax.”

4. Trust God with the future

One of the most important things that your child needs to know is that they can trust God with the future. Many students put pressure on themselves to have their life planned out — or feel embarrassed because they have no idea what they want to do.

We can trust God with our future because God knows and loves us more than anyone does. The Bible says that God works all things together for the good of those who love God. (Romans 8:28) When we love and trust God, we give God the freedom to make amazing things happen in our lives. How many of us, at age 17 or 18, could have predicted the way our lives would turn out?

“The best choice you can make”, one uni student said, “is to trust that God has a plan even if you can’t see the next step of it.” Another added, “I would honestly tell myself that the next 5 years are going to be so much greater than now.”

5. I love you

Finally, relax a little. If Year 12’s put a lot pressure on themselves, parents do as well — if not more so!

But none of the university students or recent graduates I spoke to said that they wished their parents had done anything very differently. They understood — sometimes with a few years hindsight — that this is a stressful year for students and parents.

In the end, the one thing your HSC student needs to hear is the same thing they’ve always needed to hear.

“I love you. I’m here for you. And together, we can get through anything.”