Early Entry - the domino effect

This is the last week of exams for Australian students... then it will all be over!

There is a rhythm to exams: cramming the night before, filing into the exam room, listening to the instructions, eyes darting up to check the time and finally, the relief that exam is behind you. In Australia, there is so much build-up to these four weeks that it's easy for HSC students to get 'exam fatigue' by this point. As a past HSC supervisor, I've seen this rhythm become a double-edged sword. For some students, it helps reduce anxiety. They are less paralysed by the occasion freeing them up to focus. However, for others, this rhythm lulls them towards complacency. Potentially leading to a less focused effort for those few hours that is the culmination of 2 years of hard work.

Now imagine how much focus and effort a student puts in when they have already gained Early Entry into University. This year a record number of Early Entry offers were sent out by Australian Universities. This is not surprising when the next 5 years look fairly bleak for these institutions.  They are keen to secure talented students in their courses.

However, for some Macquarie University students, offered Early Entry, they had a nasty surprise. Due to a lack of funds, 30 courses have been cancelled. This has left some of these students without a university place and, more than likely, with poorer HSC results as they took their eye off the ball once they had that offer.

There is a domino effect to record level Early Entry offers - school rankings. I spoke to Jason Ursino, owner of the tutoring company Learning Space. He says it's difficult to keep students engaged in their HSC exams when they already have a place at University. It's rare to have a student continue tutoring if they get Early Entry. In this instance, tutoring is like the proverbial canary in the coal mine. It gives us an insight into the motivation levels of students to perform well. This scenario is a nightmare for schools.

Come December 18th when students are receiving their results, many parents will be skipping through the Newspaper to the school ranks list. Where is our school ranked? And more importantly, prospective parents will be checking out which schools they should be considering.

Looking ahead, Early Entry may become more common. So how do you keep your HSC student focused until the end of their final exam?

It's a tricky task for many parents. It's hard enough to get them to focus when so much relies on these results. So when the pressure is off because university is set - what is the problem with taking it easy?

The confidence in their convictions ('I know everything' approach) can leave parents with a toothless argument. But those Macquarie students serve as a cautionary tale. As does the number of students that find they are not enjoying a 

course and wish to transfer to another. Often their ATAR score can be a barrier to entry.

Thinking beyond the next step is crucial to thriving beyond school. In our last article, we spoke about the importance of soft skills. Persistence is a highly valued soft skill. What better way to flex that muscle? Use an opportunity like this to show how you can finish strong and work hard right to the end despite not needing to. A future employers dream candidate in a world when working from home is going to be more common-place.