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Advice for Parents of HSC Students


The Higher School Certificate is a stressful time for students, but parents may also experience this time as difficult. One of the difficulties parents may face is in knowing ways to support their young person.

Some practical ways parents can support their young person include:

  • Providing a good place to study. Ideally it should be a quiet space with a desk or table and free from distractions such as TV and general noise.

  • Providing good, balanced meals and stocking up on healthy snacks.

  • Encouraging a balanced lifestyle that includes regular breaks, regular exercise and adequate sleep (at least 8-9 hours a night).

Emotional support

Parents can also help by providing a positive and supportive emotional environment at home. Most HSC students will be experiencing quite a high level of stress, often without any obvious indicators. Many worry about letting their family down or fear they won’t live up to the achievements of siblings or relatives. It is normal for adolescents under pressure to become hypersensitive and reactive from time to time. Try not to overreact to such outbursts and avoid conflict over small matters such as the state of their bedroom.

It is also important that parents assure young people that they are not their ATAR, that life will still be worth living irrespective of what happens. There are many pathways to a successful and fulfilling life as there are many pathways to university or TAFE. There can be a fine line between encouragement and nagging, but parents should do everything they can to support their children and help them keep the exams in perspective.

Be realistic

Parents also need to be realistic about the outcome of the HSC. For the majority of HSC students, university study is an unrealistic option. Parents should avoid getting too anxious themselves and can best help by showing calm support and reassurance especially when their young person expresses self doubt. “I know you are doing your best” can be a good response when young people feel they don’t know anything and are worried about impending exams.

The parent's role

The parents' role is to be encouraging and supportive, to come upstairs with a cup of tea and a Tim Tam every now and then and just make encouraging noises. The worst thing they can do is what Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, a leading adolescent psychologist, calls the vulture syndrome, where they swoop down on their young person the moment they move away from their books.

Dr Michael Carr-Greg advises parents have a crucial role in monitoring the emotional wellbeing of their children as the HSC can place unprecedented demands on an adolescent.

"If they're withdrawn, if they're sad, if they're crying all the time, we need to be their advocates, we need to get them help, to make sure there are supports around for them," Dr Carr-Gregg said.

How our school can help

Bede Polding College provides counselling, and parents can contact the school counsellor or Year Coordinator if they feel their son or daughter needs extra support. Students also have the opportunity to learn new skills to manage study stress and maximise their performance through learning relaxation exercises, effective study skills, time management skills, concentration and memory skills. Encourage your young person to seek help from teachers if they are having difficulties with a subject.

Further information

If you would like further information or support you can contact Parentline, a telephone service for parents that operates 24 hours a day on 1300 1300 52.

Contact Us

You can contact Bede Polding College on 4560 2900 weekdays between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm or use the contact form below.


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Contact Us

  • You can contact Bede Polding College on 4560 2900 weekdays between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm or use the contact form below.


  •  Send us an email
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