It’s time. After 12 years of text books, teachers and timetables, it’s come to this. NSW Year 12 students will today start the HSC – for the uninitiated, the Higher School Certificate.
It’s the culmination of years of stress, sweat and tears (and that’s just the parents!) – the end of a significant chapter in a young person’s life and the beginning of one that marks the entry to adulthood and all that comes with it.
Is there too much emphasis placed on the HSC? Are students placed under too much pressure to succeed? The majority of students would probably answer yes, at least to the second question.
It’s true that universities need a means of screening and selecting students for courses. That’s the basis of the Higher School Certificate – a test of academic ability.
But is that the way to identify the most appropriate candidates. Sure, you could get the perfect HSC score, but does that mean you have what it takes to deal with patients, families and other medical
professionals in potentially life and death situations? So many courses with HSC entry demands are about so much more than the ability to memorise information and translate it into words on paper.
For those with their hopes centred on university courses the HSC is very important. But it’s not the be all and end all. There are so many other avenues to a university course and your vocational dream.
Should the sum total of a student’s schooling be based on more than just the next four weeks of exams? The answer would have to be yes. Students perform differently under different pressures. Some students can translate their understanding of a subject better through oral scrutiny, others through assignments and then written
examinations. The argument for a more even spread of these different mediums through the last two years of school is a strong one.
In the wake of recent cuts announced by the NSW government of billions to the education budget – why are education, health and aged care always the first in the fiscal firing line? – the HSC comes to the fore. If these final exams are to be the benchmark of our students’ academic prowess, then surely any compromise on quality is a blow to our nation’s future. But, this is the system we have and these are the realities of government policies. This is the reality our Year 12 students are faced with when the first exams kick off today.
Remember, thousands of students have gone before you, thousands under the stress you feel right now, and you know what, they came out the other side. That’s all you need to know. Do the best you can, absolutely, but know there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. And, finally, be nice to your parents, who are as stressed as you are!