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Is university worth it for my teenager?

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Here’s how to help your teen determine if university is the right next step for them and offer support in the process.

If you’re the parent of a teen, you’ve probably asked yourself this question at some point. Or maybe your teen has been asking whether uni is the right choice for them, especially as the time for them to make definite plans for their future draws near.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the world at the moment, so you may feel worried about the future options for your teen. After almost two years of disrupted learning at high school, should they really consider continuing their education? Or would securing employment straight out of high school be a better option?

Below are some points to consider as you think about these questions or discuss it with your teen. We’ll also share some not-so-obvious reasons your child might be asking this question and how you can provide support during this important season in a teen’s life.

Defining the question

When we ask if something is worth it, what we’re really asking is whether the benefits outweigh the costs. So, what are the costs of going to university?

Financial costs are the most obvious. Students must pay tuition and fees, purchase books for classes, and, in some cases, pay for housing as well.

But there are other costs, too. Time is one. If your teen chooses to go to uni, they are committing to a few years of study.

There are even the hard-to-quantify costs of the hassle involved and the discomfort of plunging into a totally new environment.

So, what are the benefits of attending university – and is this the right option for your teen?

Considering the benefits of uni

As with costs, we often think of benefits first in financial terms. For a long time, lifetime earnings have been higher for those holding a university degree. (Dive into the data here.)

This is a valid consideration, but there are a number of other benefits that are arguably even more important. For example:

  • Fulfilling work: What you will earn from a job is one thing; whether you will enjoy doing it is another. At Murdoch, we believe all students should be given the opportunity to explore and find their passion, providing students with the opportunity to learn about and train in something they’re passionate about. This makes it much more likely you’ll end up doing work that matters to you. This is exactly why free-thinker Niamh chose to study at Murdoch.
  • Adaptability: Uni doesn’t just prepare you for a particular job but also gives you skills and experiences that are valuable in any work setting. It enables a person to more easily make career adjustments in a rapidly evolving economy. And given how rapidly the world can change, this is likely to always be an important skill. One way Murdoch goes about this is by ensuring students get plenty of hands-on experiences and real-life learning like the Whitby Falls Farm excursions for forensic students.
  • Transformation: University doesn’t just give you knowledge; it changes you. It opens your horizons to new experiences and perspectives and teaches you to think for yourself. Murdoch’s free thinking philosophy encourages students to explore ways they can change their life – and the world.
  • Community: It’s an exciting and wonderful experience to be surrounded by a university community. You’ll form incredible friendships with peers who share your interests and meet faculty who inspire you to explore your full potential. Murdoch students like Tahlia benefit from a sense of belonging fostered by small classes and fully engaged tutors and academic staff.

More could be added to this list, but it already makes clear that what a person gains from attending university is so much more than a higher pay packet.

Seeing behind the question

If your teen has brought up the question of whether uni is worth it for them, it may be because they are simply trying to figure out the most rational thing to do, taking into account the costs and benefits involved. We’ve already mentioned some considerations you can use to help your teen do this.

On the other hand, your teen may be experiencing apprehensiveness around the whole uni thing and is wondering if there is a different path forward. It is not unusual for students in their later high school years to start to worry, “How do I know which course to choose?”, “What if I choose the wrong thing?”, and “What if I feel really out of place at uni?”

In short, there are a lot of unknowns and it is easy for teens to fear that transition from the life they know and are comfortable with. They can use your help in having this conversation about their fears and your reassurance that they can do it.

Regardless of how your teen is feeling, it is important to help them sort through all the information available to help them find the right fit for them.

Register for our Parents and Supporters Information Session to learn more about helping your teen navigate the transition from high school to university.

Posted on:

24 Feb 2022

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