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11 Questions Parents of School-Leavers Need to Ask

11 Questions Parents of School-Leavers Need to Ask

September 29, 2023

What questions do parents need to ask when helping to weigh up tertiary education options?

As a parent, you play a vital role in helping your child as he or she leaves school and transitions to higher education. You and your school-leaver need to have all the information required to make a positive decision regarding the next step on the path to a fulfilling career.

It’s a daunting task! Information overload is real, with multiple options available to any student entering the Australian higher education landscape.

The right choice now will pay off with a future, lucrative career for your child

You want your child to choose a tertiary qualification that suits their interests and talents, and that will put them ahead of other graduates when they enter the job market. But most importantly, you want them to be happy. To be fulfilled in their career, and to be able to live the kind of lifestyle they wish for themselves. This is getting harder and harder in Australia today, ranked as the 11th most expensive country to live in. Soaring house prices, high inflation and wage stagnation are putting pressure on our school-leavers to choose a career that not only matches their interests – but also enables them to continue to live in expensive cities like Sydney.

Competition for high paying professional roles is highlighting the need for tertiary qualifications. But how can you ensure that a degree leads to a great high paying job? A solid and reputable higher education institute is an absolute must when it comes to choosing where to study after school, or students risk pouring money into a qualification that isn’t worth as much as they hoped after years of studying.

Now more than ever, students will be focused on career and employability outcomes when choosing their degree. What can parents do to guide their child as they navigate the daunting higher education selection process?

Philip Watson, Associate Vice President of Domestic Development at ICMS, speaks to parents and prospective students every day.

“Sometimes parents aren’t sure about how best to help their child with their decisions about what to do after school. They want to offer helpful advice but they also want to tread lightly as it’s important that students take ownership of their own decisions. Knowing the right questions to ask can help students to communicate and also consider things they might not have thought about before,” he said.

We asked for his top 11 questions parents need to ask their child about their study plans.

“These are some questions parents can ask to assist their child make a smooth transition into their tertiary studies – and ultimately a fulfilling career.”

11 Questions Parents Need to Ask

  1. Will this degree or course be the key to a fulfilling and well-paid job?

The commitment and time it takes to achieve an undergraduate or postgraduate degree deserves an answer to the above question. It is worth, together with your school-leaver, doing your homework and researching the tertiary path that will most likely result in an advantage in the competitive search for a well-paying, as well as fulfilling, career.

Where the cost of living vs wage stagnation is a reality, ensure that the study path your child chooses has a worthy career and high earning potential at the end of their tertiary experience.

  1. Are Internships Included?

Even entry level jobs demand experience. Recruiters today are risk averse and when comparing a prospective employee with experience with one without experience, they will always pick the candidate with experience on their resumé.

Students should find out whether their degree includes built-in industry training. At ICMS, for example, students complete two terms of real-world industry training at a company in their industry of interest. They complete their internship training as they would any other subject and gain credit when their internship is completed. This is organised by the on-site ICMS Work Integrated Learning team.

  1. Can you Apply Directly?

If students apply directly to the institution, they don’t need to set up a UAC account. They can go directly to their preferred college or university’s Apply Direct page and fill out the application form.

  1. What’s your Top UAC Preference?

If students choose to apply through a centralised university application portal, such as UAC, they should make sure that their preferred course is listed as high as possible on their preferences list. The way it works is that the first preference on their list should be the course they would most like to do. If they meet the admission criteria for this course, then that’s the one they will receive an offer for when the offers go out.

  1. How Do You Want to Study?

Students should think about whether they want to study online, face to face or a mix of the two modes, a ‘blended sync learning’ mode. Most students have returned to campuses across the country, but after the pandemic’s enforced online studying modes, many students find that they prefer the flexibility of studying from home, anywhere in the world.

If students know they’ll want to study face to face, then they should make sure that is the normal mode of delivery offered for their course and that they don’t accidentally enrol in a fully online course if they are seeking a traditional college experience.

  1. Is ATAR the Only Selection Criteria?

A few institutions, like ICMS, look at factors other than ATAR when assessing a student’s suitability for a course.  At ICMS it’s understood that attitude and ambition will not always show up on a student’s ATAR and past academic results are not a true gauge of academic potential and future career success.

There are countless examples of high profile, talented people who have achieved great success despite their high school results. Entry into ICMS courses and degrees is based on performance in specific individual HSC subjects related to the degree chosen.

  1. Will You be Treated as an Individual?

If your preferred college or university offers a chance to attend an application interview, this can be an important way for students and their prospective institution to find out if they are right for each other. Due to the large volume of applicants at traditionally large universities, you may find that not all their prospective students are met personally beforehand. The smaller institutions of higher education, like ICMS, are able to offer prospective students the chance to shine as individuals.

The individual attention that students get at ICMS does not stop at the admissions process. All ICMS students have access to the Student Success Centre (SSC) and help from Academic Learning Advisors who will assist students to develop academic skills and prepare them for the transition to tertiary student life.

It’s all part of the ICMS as The Professional Mentor ecosystem that is aimed at supporting students, such as your child, through their student journey from enrolment to graduation and beyond.

  1. Are Government HELP Loans Possible?

Studying a degree is a big commitment in many ways, including financially. Students will need to consider tuition fees, living costs and other expenses such as transport, textbooks, food and accommodation. The main expense will be tuition fees. For Australian citizens and permanent humanitarian visa holders, a HELP loan is possible from the Australian government to help support the cost of tuition. This is called FEE-Help, also referred to as HECS-Help. These HELP loans are only available from registered institutes of higher education and registered training organisations.

  1. Is the course Accredited and Recognised Globally?

A degree that is recognised and accredited globally carries with it the weight and gravitas of a qualification that is meaningful and worthy of the years of academic and real-world skills that will unlock for your child the high paying professional jobs that are most sought-after.

ICMS undergraduate and postgraduate degrees are recognised bachelor and master degrees. ICMS undergraduate and postgraduate courses are accredited and regulated through TEQSA.

Likewise, all Bachelor degrees, Graduate Certificates and Master’s degrees from ICMS represent high academic quality in the higher education sector in Australia and globally. Courses offered to international students have the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) Codes which indicate a registered program offered to international students studying in Australia on student visas.

  1. What Other Options Have You Got?

If students aren’t sure that a three-year bachelor degree is right for them or if they are uncertain whether they’ll meet the entry requirements, they should understand that a diploma qualification from a pathway provider like the Aspire Institute is essentially the first year of a bachelor degree.

Students can use credits gained in their diploma as a stepping-stone to continue into the second year of a bachelor degree at ICMS or at a university which the Aspire Institute partners with, such as UTS. For those students who are ready to hit the job market, they would graduate after just 8 months of accelerated study with a respectable formal qualification.

  1. Will you live on-campus in student accommodation or off-campus and commute?

A lot of factors play into the decision to either stay on campus in student residences or live off campus, either at the family home if the student lives close enough, or in rented accommodation.

An advantage of student accommodation owned and managed by the higher education institute is that it’s an expense that is fairly stable. Included in the weekly or trimester rate will be meals, services, security and more. As a parent, having your son or daughter stay on campus can often be good for peace of mind – you will know that they are subject to the college’s campus regulations which are in place for their safety and the safety of others.

For the student, staying on campus, especially in the first year of studying, is a great way to fully embrace the student life experience and to fairly quickly make friends with students of the same age and with similar interests. At ICMS, student accommodation on campus at ‘the castle on the hill’ in Northern Beaches – either in Moran House or Kelly House –  offer students the opportunity to live within walking distance of Manly’s amazing beaches, nightlife of Manly, stay in a heritage building, and be right near lecture venues.

Staying off campus is great for more independent or mature students, who either organise their own houses to rent or take advantage of college-managed residences off-campus such as, for example, ICMS’ Claremount Beach House or Wanganella House.

Register for the Upcoming Parents Information Evening

Thursday 23 November 

6:00 – 7:30pm

Agenda for the Evening:

  • The Application Process: Learn about the complex Universities Admission Centre (UAC) preference process.
  • Key Dates: Get a summary of the Key Dates and Entry Requirements for 2024 applicants.
  • Fees: Gain an understanding of FEE-HELP, High Academic Places, eCAF, and other tuition fee-related options.
  • Teaching Methods: Our Dean will explain our Authentic, Industry-Driven, Assessment-based Teaching methods.
  • Industry Training: Find out how ICMS can offer 100% of degree students professional placements through our Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program.
  • Student Story: Listen to a current student share why she believes the ICMS community and support is unique.
  • Parent Perspective: A parent of a current student will share their perspective on how and why they made the choice to study at ICMS.
  • Mingle and Chat: Faculty Academics will be there to chat about specific degree course structure and subjects.

The evening takes the format of a sit-down presentation, which will begin at 6:00pm sharp. Drinks and canapés will be served from 5:30pm onwards. Free parking is available on campus, in front of the ‘castle’. This event will also be live-streamed on Facebook @ICMSaustralia

REGISTER HERE for Parent's Information Evening


Prefer One on One Advice?

Parents are welcome to call or email the Domestic Development Office if you have any questions about their child’s application:

Call: (02) 9466 1240 | Email: [email protected]