A Better Way to Get into University

The HSC (or Higher School Certificate) is the exam all school students in our state take at the end of their final year of school.
Homeschoolers are not eligible to sit the HSC. So how will our children get
into university? How will they get a job? Are they at a disadvantage compared
with school children? Or do they actually have an advantage?

This morning, just after 10 o’clock, the girls were sitting
around the kitchen table sipping drinks, their noses in books. As I walked by,
with my own mug of coffee, I remarked, “Isn’t it good to be homeschoolers?
Think of all the kids sitting in school, waiting for the bell to ring, so they can
go outside and have their morning tea.”
Imogen thought for a moment and then said, “If I wasn’t a
homeschooler, right now I would be sitting next to Casey (Callum’s girlfriend)
in an exam room doing my HSC.” She shuddered before returning to her book.
Obviously she has no desire to do her HSC.
We were talking about the HSC earlier today. Callum told us
about a radio program he listened to yesterday. “They were discussing the HSC
and whether it’s essential to have one. A lot of listeners rang in to say they
dropped out of school without getting a HSC and they are still successful.”
Three years ago Callum applied to go to university. He
didn’t have an HSC. Instead he’d spent his last homeschooling year studying
three university units at home, through Open Universities. He used the results of
these units to compete with school leavers (who had an HSC) to get into the
degree course of his choice. And he was successful.
“Doing a few university units through Open Universities is
much less work than doing the HSC,” I observed. “Do you remember how hard your
friend Lara worked studying for the HSC, the same year you did those university
units? She worked much harder than you did, and was so stressed out about it
all. Then after all that work, she failed to get a place on the course she
applied for.”
I think Lara’s mother was rather upset about that situation.
Callum had had a relaxed year studying his three university units, and Lara had
spent a very stressful year studying for her HSC. Lara had certainly put in
more work than Callum, but it was Callum who’d been successful with his
university application. I got the feeling that Lara’s mother thought it was
very unfair. Unfair? I just think the HSC system is a bad one. There are better
ways. And we used one of those ways.
So my children don’t have HSCs and none of them ever will.
Are they disadvantaged? No. They can still be accepted into university. But
what about potential employers? Callum reminded me that job application forms
ask if you have an HSC. “You need to prove you finished school.”
“Many forms also ask for the highest level of education you
achieved. You’ve studied at tertiary level. You wouldn’t have been able to do
that if you’d failed to finish school,” I reminded him. Open University units
rank higher than the HSC.
When we’d finished morning tea, Imogen headed back to her
work. It’s her final year of homeschooling. It’s her turn to do a few
university units. She’s successfully completed two and she’s presently working
on the third. She’s had a good year. The units have moved her up to the next level
of education, while still leaving her enough time to pursue her own passions such as music, and also join in with whatever we’ve been doing as a family.
So for the next couple of weeks Year 12 school students around
Australia are stressing out over their HSC exams. And Imogen is not. She has an advantage, not a disadvantage. 
The HSC? No. There’s
a better way.
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  1. Reply

    I wonder how many people realise that there are alternatives to the HSC. It seems like such a lot of effort for an ordinary standard of education. Sometimes, the red tape and prejudices make it hard to step outside the box, I guess. The universities seem to value the alternatives at least as much as the HSC, anyway.

    God bless, Sue:-)

    1. Reply


      I suggested Open Universities to Lara's mother. If Lara had done a couple of units (only 2 units are needed), she could have then re-applied mid-year for the degree she wanted to do. She might have been successful second time round. But as you said, it is hard for people to step outside the box. Alternative pathways aren't only for homeschoolers. They may also suit school students better than the HSC.

      I think we are very fortunate that universities seem to have accepted the idea of HSC alternatives. It really isn't difficult for homeschoolers to get into university. I imagine pioneer homeschoolers of a few years ago may have had a harder time than us. I am always grateful to those parents who forged the pathway ahead of us, opening up the educational choices for our children.

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