How to help your teen find their path after high school

By Sally Payne, Associate Dean of Studies, UTS Insearch


Students have many different options after high school. Some may gain direct entry to their dream degree, others may not have the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) to study what they want and will choose something different and some students make take vocational courses or work.

If your teen achieved their desired ATAR, congratulations to them and good luck in their studies. If they may not have the ATAR they want for their dream degree, they shouldn't worry. They can research alternative pathways, which may provide options they hadn't considered for entering their desired area of study. They should also explore other avenues that will ultimately help them find the right path to take them into their chosen career/future.

Be aware of key dates

If your teen is intending to enter university, they should be aware that each university has its own semester, term, exam and census dates. Your teen might find a calendar or wall planner helpful to see when they have to apply for courses, attend Open Days or book appointment to meet with course advisers. Tracking key dates will help them when they need to apply for an alternate pathway.

Look at part-time employment

Before your teen starts their university study, suggest they consider finding part or full time work. They can learn valuable skills that will be beneficial to their study like time management and how to work in a team. Employment in the period before they start the new university year will provide them with a head start for the year.

There are many websites that provide valuable career advice to students including Graduate Connection. These sites can provide advice on useful employment related skills such as how to write a resume and cover letter and how to conduct yourself in an interview.

Take a gap year before further study or work

Taking a gap year can also help if your teen cannot or doesn't want to go straight to university. According to the Good Universities Guide, students who take a gap year can help them qualify for Youth Allowance, gain key professional or technical experience and give them experience that will help them get ahead of their peers. Gap years also provide a level of maturity that they may not have straight out of high school.


Also consider volunteering in Australia or overseas. There are many worthwhile causes your teen can dedicate their time to including aged care, environmental protection, working with children, teaching English and working on an organic farm. According to Australian volunteering association, GVI Australia , volunteering helps develop soft skills that can be used your teen's entire life including empathy, communication, self-confidence and creativity.

It may be challenging for your teen to find their path after high school but there are many ways in which they can be successful.


Author bioSally is the Chair of the Learning and Teaching Committee and Deputy Chair of the Academic Board at UTS Insearch. Prior to becoming the Associate Dean of Studies, Sally was the Program Manager for the Diploma of IT and the UTS Foundation Studies program where she was responsible for the academic management of the pathway programs.

Sally is also the mother of three children who have completed the HSC in the past seven years.


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