2020 has, without doubt, been a tough one for students in their final year at school. In addition to the usual stresses, they have had to adjust to extended periods of remote learning and all that this entails. They have had fewer opportunities to conference face to face with teachers and friends. They have had to adjust to getting down to work at home, largely on their own. What does this all mean for tertiary studies in 2021 and how can parents help?
If parents give their teenagers a positive spin on this, students may actually be able to transition into tertiary studies more successfully than final year students in previous years. A glass-half-full view is important at the best of times. For our students completing their secondary education in 2020, it’s vital.
The main messages students need to hear from parents are:
- “We are proud of you! You have made it through a tough year and this is a real achievement.”
- “You have shown us that you can survive without seeing teachers and friends in person every day. This takes real courage and maturity. Well done!”
- “We are impressed with the way you have handled the ups and downs of this year. We are so proud of the determination you have shown.”
But will they be able to adjust to tertiary studies after a year like this?
Here is a reflection from insights I have gained as a Careers Counsellor. You are welcome to share it with your teenager. It’s addressed to your teenager and you can print it out for him if you think it might help…
“Congratulations on getting through your final year at school in an ‘on-again-off-again’ remote learning world! This is a unique year in our history and YOU have made it through the ups and downs! Because it has been a tougher year for you than final year students in past years, you may actually have a distinct advantage over them! Something good has to come out of all of this, right?
So how could you have an advantage?
- You have had to adjust to not always having teachers there with you! Yes, you have been able to email teachers and join them in online classes, but it just isn’t the same as chatting to a teacher after class, in the yard or after school! So, you have had to be creative. Perhaps you started reading over work more carefully before that online class, perhaps you had to carefully express your concerns in an email… You know the challenges you had.
- Now how will this help you next year? Well, at university or in a TAFE institution, lecturers and tutors are not as readily available as your high school teachers are. You have to email them to make an appointment and you have to seek them out! They are not right there waiting for you. But the fact that you have survived this year means that you are tougher than students in the past and you will not give up! You will email that lecturer. You will make sure you find that tutor because you are tougher, more resilient.
- You have had to adjust to not always having friends there with you! Getting through the year without seeing your friends every day has been great preparation for tertiary studies where your friends may be in different courses or at different institutions.
- Now how will this help you next year? Just as you have maintained your friendships through social media this year, you will be able to continue to do this next year when you start tertiary studies. Perhaps you have also learnt something else really valuable through 2020. We often take our friends for granted and once we start tertiary studies, we lose contact with them. One of the reasons many students drop out of tertiary studies is loneliness. They lose contact with high school friends and fail to make new friends at their tertiary institution. You won’t do this because you have experienced how tough it is not to have contact with friends every day at school. So, when you get into tertiary studies, here are two goals you need to have…
- Maintain contact with your closest high school friends. Don’t let friendships fade…
- Make new friends at your new tertiary institution. Having a study group and friends doing the same course as you can be a sanity saver!
- You have had to adjust to keeping up to date and studying on your own! You have experienced being at home and having to organise your time and study without teachers and friends around you.
- Now how will this help you next year? This is fantastic preparation for tertiary studies. But don’t think that you always have to do things alone. Of course not! Make those new uni friends and even organise those study groups so that you can get help and help your new friends. But the fact that you got through this year means that you have developed the independence and determination needed to adjust to studies after school!
- You have the skills and the mindset to transition to tertiary studies! You are part of the first final year group of students to face and get through a Covid-19 upheaval! You have adjusted, re-adjusted and adjusted again and again! Some students found it easier than others.
- Now how will this help you next year? Regardless of how you found the year, you made it through!!! You made it! And that took…
Time management skills
- Tertiary institutions know what you have faced!
All tertiary institutions want their students to transition successfully to tertiary studies, do well and enjoy their studies. They are all aware of the tough year you have had and are preparing to make you feel welcome and supported. There will be even more support for you than ever before so you can relax and look forward to an exciting 2021. Do remember, however, that it is important to seek out help at your tertiary institution. If you need help of any kind, it’s there!
Once again, congratulations on getting through your final year at school in spite of Covid-19. You are already a winner!”