Don’t stress and enjoy the moment: top tips for finishing Year 12 and starting uni

Published 27 September 2021

Fear, uncertainty, frustration, and disappointment are all emotions that we’ve heard senior high-school students experience over the past 20 months as they finish their studies in the midst of a pandemic. Southern Cross University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students), Professor Nan Bahr, reminds us that it’s important to stay calm and enjoy these last days at school.

Professor Nan Bahr has worked in the higher education sector for more than 20 years and has seen thousands of students apply and start their courses at Southern Cross University. During her long career, Nan has received recognition for excellence in teaching and leadership of student learning support. She joins a special episode of the SCU Buzz Podcast for senior high school students as they navigate entry into university.

Q: How would you say that year 12 students are feeling at the moment with the chaos of the HSC being pushed back for NSW?

A: I think the worst aspect of this year has been the uncertainty of what will happen and how they can prepare. I have seen through my daughter and nephew’s experiences of their senior schooling this year that there are quite a variety of responses. My nephew has thrived, he's been very happy to be engaged in self-directed learning from home during unexpected lockdowns. For my daughter, it's been quite different. The sorts of subjects that she has in her studies rely more on her being there in the classroom with teachers and students exploring the concepts and doing practical assessments. There’s been so much uncertainty and I really feel for students.

Q: What advice do you have for students who are unsure whether or not they'll get the right ATAR to get into university?

A: Not to stress basically. I mean, it's not a one-shot thing. If you don't get the ATAR you want, there are a number of different ways to line up and prepare yourself to get into the career you choose. Southern Cross University has great pathways, including the STAR Early Offer scheme. The STAR scheme can be a great relief for students. They can be more certain of their future studies well before their ATAR is finalised. Read more about pathway programs.

Q: For high school students who are mentally struggling at the moment, what advice would you give them to help with their wellbeing in such a time of uncertainty?  

A: Make sure that you're feeling comfortable in yourself and that you’re making the best of your day. There’s a tendency, particularly coming up to exam time, to think that everything you do now will have an indelible imprint on what comes in the future, without necessarily thinking about what you need to be understanding and enjoying right now. There’s even an expectation that students will have settled on their career preferences, but that’s not fair, really. It's a bit like asking a five-year-old what sort of car they want when they get their driving license, they've probably got no idea.

Q: You've been at Southern Cross University for a while now, what should students do when they first arrive on campus to get the most out of their experience?

A: I think getting involved in activities run through the student associations, whether online or in-person, is the absolute key! I think it's very important for students to meet other students, regardless of where they are in their stage of life. The student associations actually provide a number of different ways for you to connect.

Hear the full conversation with Southern Cross University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students) Nan Bahr above in the latest episode of the SCU Buzz Podcast, or you can head HERE.

Media contact: Media and content team