In Summary

There’s a lot of talk about freedom and independence as your child finishes high school. Yet, this is a time when children need more support than ever from parents, career practitioners and other advisers to help them manage stress and make the best choices about university entry. 

Here are 5 tips for parents helping their child transition from school to university.

1. Stress happens

Final exams and assignments, organising VTAC preferences, anticipating ATAR results and significant social changes can leave young people feeling like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Try not to use phrases such as ‘it’ll be fine’ or ‘don’t worry’. They will worry – and so will you! Instead, try to acknowledge the pressures they’re experiencing without too much judgement and give them a little more time and space amid the rush of family life to complete their studies and uni applications to the best of their ability.

2. Career guidance

When it comes to choosing or changing VTAC preferences, try not to pressure kids towards a particular career path. The wrong choice of degree may only lead to a wasted or frustrating start to university life.  

Instead, encourage them to sit down and make a pros and cons chart, listing different courses alongside long-term factors such as earning potential or the work–life balance advantages of different careers. They have a wealth of research tools at their disposal and you have the life experience to understand what’s really important in a career. It’s a winning combination!

3. Peer pressure

The influence of peers can’t be underestimated when it comes to transitioning from school to university. You may need to provide guidance to students choosing courses based on where their mates will be going, for example.

Ask about your child’s friends, about their intentions for study or work so that you can all help each other through the challenges that lie ahead.

4. Be open to events

At this time in your child’s life you can never have too much information! Talk to your child about the Change of Preference Expo at Swinburne University of Technology. Go along with your child for support or offer to drive them with a few of their friends. Throughout December you can also access free one-on-one course advice from the experts at Swinburne. Into the new year, there will be orientation activities to help your child settle in on campus. Help them take advantage of these many opportunities for guidance and support! 

5. Look at the alternatives

Some children reach the end of Year 12 feeling burnt out and not quite ready for more study. Help them research their gap year options. Deferring, rather than rejecting, their university place gives them the security of a year off without losing their uni place. 

If they want to travel, consider international study options rather than aimless backpacking. Swinburne offers a comprehensive international study program that lets students acquire valuable language and life skills in a new environment. Overseas study is credited towards their degree, which means they can have an adventure without adding to the time it takes to get started in a career.

Swinburne is ranked one of Melbourne’s top universities and among the top 400 universities in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities and has been consistently recognised for producing graduates who are ready for employment. The Good Universities Guide 2015 gives Swinburne a five-star rating for overall graduate satisfaction. 

These accolades are derived from our belief in providing an exceptional educational environment that prepares learners from all backgrounds for a successful future.


Attend Swinburne's Change of Preference events for assistance with your child’s course choices as they transition from school to university.