Hard work wins pupils early university chances
WHILE most students anxiously await the release of their ATAR rank on Thursday, many others have already received early offers from universities to begin their degrees.
Offers have been made to hundreds of students, in some cases well before their final exams, based on academic performance, work experience, extra-curricular activities and referees.
The number of entries and calibre of courses offered varied across Tweed Shire schools.
Banora Point High School had 59 students in its year 12 cohort and of those 53 were made offers, six of them for double degrees in law - the most for any Tweed school.
More than half of Tweed River High School's cohort received early entry while Kingscliff High received 73, one for fine arts at Griffith's prestigious Queensland College of Arts.
Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School had 81 offers between 71 students, six into engineering, with honours in areas such as biomedical engineering.
Careers advisers such as Banora Point High's Jessica Dreyer have been instrumental in the early entry application process.
Ms Dreyer said she was proud the school was the only one in NSW taking part in a Griffith Clinical Health School program, a two-year, part-time course that aligns the state's Year 11 and 12 biology and PE courses with first year university equivalents.
"They get a lab day in year 11, and then a lab day in year 12, and they also have extra assessment that I give them that gets sent up to the university to get marked," Ms Dreyer said.
"It costs $100 per student (a saving of up to $1000 per course) and guarantees entry on completion in nine health programs, including biomedical science, a pre-requisite to medicine."
Students could also apply through programs like Southern Cross University's Head Start, completing a first year unit in communications for guaranteed entry. Held during sports, the course was limited to academic achievers who could balance university in addition to the HSC.
SCU and Griffith also offered entry based on school recommendation and through bridging courses into associate degrees - two-year courses which lead to a bachelor's degree.
"Programs like this (bridging) are for kids who for whatever reason aren't getting an ATAR or are failing chemistry and biology miserably but doing brilliantly and excelling in English," Ms Dreyer said.
"It's an opportunity for them to shine in what their natural talents are."
Ms Dreyer believes the early entry system has a more holistic approach to securing ideal candidates than pure ATAR-based entry.
"We as their teachers during high school get to know them and their passions through their class work and through early entries have the opportunity to direct them in the most appropriate direction.
"It most certainly is the way of the future."
SCU's head of marketing Janet Hanlan said it would continue to offer a variety of methods for assessing a student's likelihood of success at university.
Regional organiser for the Lismore office of NSW Teacher's Federation Marty Wheatley said it supported all attributes of early entry schemes.
MOST POPULAR COURSES FOR 2015*
- Convention and event management
- Sport and exercise science
*SCU (Gold Coast), based on number of applicants
Early entry offers for 2015*
- 81: Lindisfarne Anglican School, cohort: 71
- 53: Banora Point High School, cohort: 59
- 53: St Joseph's College Banora Point, cohort: 90
- 64: Tweed River High School, cohort: 115
- 73: Kingscliff High School, cohort: 143
- 35: Murwillumbah High School, cohort: 72
*Some students received more than one offer