Listen: Collett Smart chats to Katrina Roe about how to handle HSC results
Across NSW, thousands of young people are now contemplating their futures, after the arrival of their HSC ATAR results via text message on Friday morning.
To help out those who didn’t get the result they were hoping for, we chatted to Collett Smart—an adolescent psychologist who personally knows what it feels like to get a result less than what you hoped for.
‘I Didn’t Get the Result I Wanted Either’
“In my day we had to go to the school and wait and line up and get our [HSC] results,” Collett said.
“I didn’t get the result I wanted and I remember sobbing my heart out. I’m sure all my friends and teachers thought I’d failed. And I hadn’t. I actually fell in love with psychology when I was studying teaching. It wasn’t my original plan.”
Collett uses the story of her own HSC experience to encourage young people that the direction of their life isn’t necessarily determined by their ATAR.
“I think for a lot of young people this day can be quite daunting because they don’t get exactly the result they wanted to,” she said. “And for parents, you have been through the whole journey with your kids and so everyone’s really nervous.
“But I tell my students I didn’t get the result I wanted because I think it’s encouraging for young people to know that there are so many more ways to get to the career you want.
“So many jobs haven’t even been invented that our young people are going to be working in, in a few years time anyway. We’re hearing that more and more. The results today are just one dot on a continuum.
“I think it’s the process that counts. If you weren’t great at writing exams or you don’t do well in the exam process, that doesn’t define you as a person.
“You can still be successful without the result you wanted.”
How Parents Can Encourage Their Young People
Collett offered the following advice on how to encourage young people who are disappointed about their HSC result.
- Highlight their strengths: “Encourage them for their perseverance and the way they treat others, praise their characteristics and so many other things about your child. Look at the ultimate importance that is higher than just today’s results.”
- Allow space for their emotions. “Allow them to feel sad or upset about their mark. It will take them some time to process it, and that’s actually ok. Let them go through the process.
- Celebrate the milestone. “Go and celebrate this week. Whether you got the mark you wanted or not, or your children did or didn’t, take them out and celebrate. It’s a big milestone. They’ve finished 13 years of schooling. Celebrate new beginnings, celebrate life.”
- Brainstorm what to do next: “If you haven’t thought through other pathways, it’s a good time to talk to your son or daughter and start researching, be creative, see what else is on offer.
- Look for other avenues: Look into other options that might still get your son or daughter into the course or career of their dreams, advises Collett. “I teach a Pathways program and there are many students that do that for a few months or a term, and then hop into the course they were hoping for in the beginning.”
- Put things in perspective: “They’re going to need to hear that they’re more than their result. Remind them of that. Life isn’t just about one exam result. Encourage them and remind them they’re not defined by one mark.”
- Remind them there are options: “I tell students, you don’t realise how things can open up for you. The world opens up, you get to see subjects you never even knew existed. And you actually suddenly become interested in other areas you never knew about.”