Myth-busting for future first generation of uni students

Photo by Randy Larcombe.

Photo by Randy Larcombe.
Full Image (359.72K)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

How do you encourage a new generation of students to become the first in their families to go to university?

That's the question being tackled at the University of Adelaide's First Generation Day today (Wednesday 26 August).

Seventy-nine Year 10 students across six schools are participating in the "myth-busters" program run by the University of Adelaide. The final First Generation Day is the culmination of the program, which aims to dispel myths about university life and study.

The initiative is part of the State Government's First Generation Program being run in partnership with the State's three major universities at 23 schools this year.

SACE Board Chief Executive Dr Paul Kilvert said the program linked with the intentions of the new compulsory SACE subject, the Personal Learning Plan, by encouraging students to research and assess further education, training and employment opportunities for the future.

"For some students, university may not seem a natural option," he said.

"Students often have pre-conceived ideas about whether they have the potential to meet the university entry requirements, the number of contact-hours spent on campus, the jobs that qualifications can lead to, the affordability of going to university or the amount of study time associated with different degrees.

"In essence the objective of this program is to separate the myths from the facts and help the students to explore opportunities matching their interests and skills," Dr Kilvert said.

By attending program days and participating in activities which help them to identify university and career pathways, the students have been gaining a better understanding of what university life is like, from the lecture hall to the radio station.

The schools involved in the "myth-busters" program are Charles Campbell Secondary School, Temple Christian College, Seaford 6-12 School, Tatachilla Lutheran College, Thomas More College and William Light R-12 School.

Personal Learning Plan coordinator at Tatachilla Lutheran College Tim Castle-Schmidt said the students first visited the university earlier this year to develop their own ideas about possible opportunities, with later sessions also involving parents.

"Many students and parents wanted to know more about university because they had not had much exposure to it and wanted to make informed decisions," Mr Castle-Schmidt said.

"I have seen some excellent examples of students raising their expectations about the future. They have been setting achievable goals that they once cast aside as out of reach."

With a choice of 200 degree programs on offer at the University, the students were surveyed at the start of the program to determine what would be beneficial and of interest to them.

First Generation program coordinator at the University Jen Hill said the students were particularly interested in engineering, health sciences, teaching, architecture and various fields of science.

"The students have been able to examine career options they might like to pursue and the university pathways that can take them there," Ms Hill said.

"By taking part in the program's activities, the students get a real impression of the skills needed to succeed at university, an understanding of the difference between high school education and university education and encouragement to consider university as an achievable goal.

"Myth-busters is about giving first generation students the opportunity to experience what university is like and understand what it has to offer. It takes the 'unknown' out of university, which empowers students to want to participate."

The final program day, on 26 August, is centred on career development options with the University's Careers Manager, Susan Hervey, talking about the benefits of university education and the job opportunities available to graduates.

First Generation is one of four School to Work programs sharing in $5.7m in funds over three years to support the introduction of the new South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE).


Contact Details

Ms Jenefer Hill
First Generation Program Coordinator
Prospective Students Office
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0531

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762