Choosing your subjects in Years 11 & 12

Many students are unsure about which subjects to choose. The most important thing is to choose subjects which:

  • You enjoy
  • You have achieved good results in previously
  • Reflect your interests and abilities
  • Help you reach your career goals
  • Meet any subject prerequisites you need for further study after Year 12
  • Will develop skills, knowledge and attitudes useful throughout your life
  • Will keep many post-Year 12 options open.



Think about your interests and career aspirations. Use the career planner tools for suggestions on careers that you may be suited to. Go to:





Talk to your family, friends and career advisers about your plans and get feedback from people you know who work in your area of interest.



Attend career expos. For information on career expos in Melbourne, go to:






Explore the internet and printed material.

For web-based information, go to:





The do nots in subject selection

It is easy to base your decisions on another person’s experience, but remember, you are an individual, so what is right for someone else may not be right for you.

Do not:

  • Select subjects purely on the basis of getting a better ATAR
  • Be influenced by suggestions that you should, or should not, choose a particular subject because a friend/brother/sister either liked or disliked it when they studied it
  • Select a subject because you think a certain teacher may, or may not, be teaching that subject next year.

Year 12 – What to do next

Ok, so you have almost finished VCE and are about to start your post-school life! Maybe you have a career path in mind or perhaps you are still a little unsure of which direction you want to take. Whichever option you choose, these websites will help you find the information you need to get started in this new stage of your life:




What if I don’t get the ATAR I was expecting?

If you didn’t get the ATAR you were expecting, or didn’t get the score you need for your university place, don’t assume you’ll never get into uni. There are many different ways to get into uni and lots of students get there through non-traditional routes. What’s important is that you end up where you want to be.

Most importantly, if you don’t get the ATAR you were hoping for, it’s not the end of the world. You are not defined by your ATAR. But it is time to make some final decisions about what to do with your uni preferences.

If you are having problems with sadness that feels overwhelming, please seek help via Headspace: http://www.headspace.org.au/

Also remember university ATARs can vary from year to year depending on demand.

Option 1: Don’t change a thing

The first option is to keep your preferences as they are, even if your dream course has an ATAR higher than your score.

Universities will make first offers to students who have put a course as their first preference and scored above the ATAR cut-off. Each course has a certain number of places. For example, 400 students might be offered a place during the first-round offers. Not all of these students will accept a place, or perhaps fewer people will apply for that course.

So, in the second round of offers, the university will cast its net wider to offer more students a place in order of ATAR scores. This means if your ATAR is fairly close (within 5 points) to the cut-off, and the course isn’t excessively popular, you have a very good chance of getting an offer to your dream course.


Option 2: Rethink your preferences

If your ATAR is more than 5 points lower than the course cut-off, you can make two changes to your university preferences so they can work in your favour. You can choose a similar course with a lower ATAR cut-off at:

  • The same university where you would like to study. Once you’re accepted, work hard to get a distinction average and transfer to your desired course the next year
  • A different uni. Again, work to get a distinction  average and then transfer between universities. Because it’s a similar course, you should be able to get full course credits, which means you don’t lose any time.


Option 3: Find another way

Another option is to research alternative pathways into university. Pathway providers allow students to complete a Foundation Studies program or a Diploma that allows for direct entry into some universities. In most cases, students with a diploma are guaranteed entry into the second year of an undergraduate degree.

No matter which option you choose, just remember that if your ATAR isn’t as high as you’d hoped, there is always another pathway into uni. Just know your options.


For more information go to: www.vtac.edu.au

Types of Learning


Online courses

An online course means you can study anywhere – at home, at a mate’s place, at work or even in a café. As long as you’ve got an internet connection, you can log in. There are now a wide range of courses that you can study online.


In-class courses

Studying on campus is a great option if you want to meet other students and talk to your teachers in person.

Though online courses also offer plenty of support and interaction, many students find the personal contact and structure of classroom study help them manage their time and stay motivated.

From certificates to degrees, you can study either entirely on campus, or partially online and partially in the classroom.


Blended learning

You can get the best of both worlds with a combination of online and in-class education.

You can study a range of courses where you’ll attend your local campus for lectures or tutorials, and complete coursework online.

Blended learning is all about flexibility – not only will you be able to meet your teachers in person, you’ll also be able to fit online study in between work and family commitments.


Going to a TAFE


TAFE and VET graduates are ready to step straight into the workforce. It’s a cheaper, quicker way than uni to gain career-relevant skills and qualifications. Courses can be offered by educational and commercial providers.

Vocational (job-centred) study provides practical, job-related education and training in the trades, paraprofessional and technical areas. RMIT and Swinburne University of Technology have TAFE divisions offering vocational Certificate I-IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma programs that range from six months to two years of full-time study. For more information, go to:



Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly NMIT) is a large TAFE provider in the inner northern suburbs. It has hundreds of nationally accredited vocational Certificate and Diploma courses that provide varying levels of hands-on competencies and skills to match current industry practice.

Melbourne Polytechnic’s VETiS (VET in Schools) program lets you study TAFE subjects in Year 11 and 12, so you can gain credit towards your senior secondary certificate of education (VCE or VCAL). Search the course guide to find the right fit for you.

Melbourne Polytechnic offers:

  • Certificate I to Certificate IV courses (including a number of pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships). They are available at most campuses, and all are easy to access via public transport
  • Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL). It offers a range of courses including: Ticket to a Trade, Music, Hospitality, Animal Studies, Carpentry and other general VCAL programs.

For more information, go to:


Kangan Institute is another large TAFE provider. It has campuses at Broadmeadows, Essendon, Moonee Ponds (Health), Richmond (Creative Industries) and Docklands (ACE – Automotive Centre of Excellence). For more information, go to:



William Angliss Institute offers TAFE courses leading to careers in foods, tourism, hospitality or events. For more information, go to:



Commercial providers include the large careers brokers such as training.com.au and SeekLearning.com.

Training.com.au has a TAFE course browser:


Seek Learning offers TAFE courses through Australia’s biggest TAFE provider OTEN, plus a range of certificates and diplomas through reputable colleges. For more information, go to:



Going to university

So you got into university or are thinking about going there?. During your uni years, you will meet many new and exciting people, explore your academic interests and perhaps experience the independence of living away from home.

Everything at uni happens on a far bigger scale than it did at school. The 500-word essays you produced at school will morph into 3,000 word ones. There will be thousands of people wandering around the campus, and you’ll have to work really hard if you want to do well.

At uni, you’ll be expected to manage your own time and learn much more independently than at school. You will be assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing that may not be directly addressed in lectures. Scheduling study and preparing for class will be your responsibility; lectures and tutors will not chase you for work.

For information, advice and general hints and tips on going to university and what to expect, go to:






Scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit and the number of scholarships awarded each year varies for each school and university. They are offered to primary, secondary and tertiary students and range in value.

They are generally awarded to students who:

  • Demonstrate academic achievement
  • Demonstrate participation in their school and local community
  • Are in financial need. This is determined by the parents/guardians being in receipt of a Health Care Card, a Low Income Health Care Card or a Pensioner Concession Card, with reference numbers required, or the students themselves receiving the Youth Allowance).

Scholarships are normally open to applicants at particular stages of their schooling, regardless of their background. Selection criteria also vary according to the scholarship and can include:

  • An examination for an academic scholarship
  • An audition for a music scholarship
  • A folio or a project for a scholarship for art or science.

Schools and unis will usually interview scholarship candidates as part of the selection procedure, and take into consideration the student’s school reports, testimonials and samples of work.

There are also scholarships connected to industry.


Scholarships for school students

Parents and/or students seeking information about scholarships offered by Government and Independent Schools in Victoria, go to:





If you are a student who lives or study in Melbourne’s West – you maybe eligible to apply for Western Chances Scholarships to assist you at Uni/TAFE http://westernchances.org.au/

Click here for a full list of scholarships available


Tertiary scholarships

All universities in Victoria have scholarship programs to support tertiary education. To find out about individual university’s scholarship programs, go to:










Industry scholarships/sponsorships

An Industry Scholarship is a collaborative method of combining classroom-based education with practical industry experience that can give you a competitive advantage in the job market. There are many scholarships available in industry,and the following links below provide details of some of the industry scholarships available:








Apprenticeships and traineeships

“Young people need to be equipped with the skills that are in demand to be able to compete in today’s constantly changing workplace. Expanded apprenticeship and traineeship programs should reflect growth industries like aged care and childcare, not just traditional trades, as the job market restructures to a more service-orientated rather than trade-based economy.” – Mission Australia Youth Survey Report 2015

Australian Apprenticeships (often referred to as apprenticeships or traineeships) are available to anyone of working age.

There are more than 500 occupations across Australia that offer apprenticeships and traineeships ranging from Certificate II to Advanced Diploma levels, including traditional trades and a number of emerging occupations in most sectors of business and industry.

You do not need a secondary school certificate or other qualification to be able to do an Australian Apprenticeship. You can do an apprenticeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult worker simply wishing to change careers. You can even begin your Australian Apprenticeship while you’re still at school finishing Years 11 and 12.

An Australian Apprenticeship combines on- and off-the-job training that enables you to earn an income while you complete a nationally recognised qualification.

The Australian Government provides funding to eligible Australian Apprentices that is aimed to assist with the costs incurred while they are undertaking training. There is eligibility criteria for all funding and some of the initiatives currently include Living Away from Home Allowance and the Trade Support Loans Program.

When you finish your Australian Apprenticeship, you will have a nationally recognised qualification that can take you anywhere in Australia and one that is held in high regard in many overseas countries as well. Australian Apprenticeships are certainly a great way to get a head start in your chosen career or industry.

To explore your apprenticeship and traineeship options further, go to:



Work experience

Work experience can be fun, as well as helping you to gain valuable job skills. It might be something you have to do for a week or two as part of your schoolwork. It might also be part of your TAFE or university course.

To find out how to find and get the most out of work experience, go to: http://www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/jobs-careers/volunteering-work-experience

You can also search the Work Experience directory at: workexperiencedirectory.com.au/work-experience-melbourne/magazines-and-publishing-work-experience-melbourne

Are you in a catch-22 situation? You’ve got a qualification but no experience. Volunteering is a way of getting some useful experience that employers recognise and value. As well as gaining experience, you are helping to support not-for-profit organisations (NFP) and getting involved in your community.



Volunteering allows you to become involved and take action on issues that are important to you. You can volunteer at any age by:

  • Willingly giving your time, skills and enthusiasm to a worthy cause
  • Not getting paid
  • Supporting a not-for-profit organisation
  • Benefiting the community.


Why volunteer?

Volunteering has benefits for the organisation and for you. These include:

  • Making new friends
  • Meeting like-minded people
  • Developing new skills
  • Expanding the skills you already have
  • Contributing to something you believe in
  • Facing new challenges and experiences
  • Increasing confidence
  • Finding personal fulfilment
  • Making a positive change to your community
  • Improving your résumé
  • Gaining a referee for employment
  • Doing something fun.


How can you get involved?

You can get involved in volunteering by:

  • Running your own project in your local community
  • Participating in school-based projects/events
  • Helping at a not-for-profit organisation


 Steps to get involved in volunteering

If you decide too give volunteering a go:

  • Think about the issues and causes that are important to you
  • Think about your skills, attributes and the things you enjoy doing, because volunteering is about doing something you want to do
  • Reflect on why you would like to volunteer
  • Decide how much time you can commit to volunteering
  • Consider where and with whom you would like to volunteer.

To research for volunteer opportunities, go to:





You can also contact not-for-profit organisations and speak to the volunteer manager or contact the Centre for Volunteering at: www.volunteering.com.au

To find out what other young people have done, go to:


Alternative education programs

At CAE’s New Pathways program I have a new found motivation to do my work and go to school. I find it easier to concentrate and get along with my teachers and peers. I like how the program teaches you things you’ll need in real life situations like budgeting.

For some students, learning in a mainstream school environment can be challenging for a variety of reasons. Alternative settings and learning pathways can provide students with a chance to succeed.

Alternative education and re-engagement programs are suited to those students who:

  • Need a break from traditional educational pathways
  • Are early school leavers who want to ease back into education/training or employment.

Many ‘alternative programs’ are not a full qualification. They focus on improving literacy, numeracy and social and life skills. Each program is unique and has its own funding arrangements. Speak directly to the program coordinator to find out more information.

Students enrolled in secondary school may be eligible to have fees paid for by their current school. Contact your school for more details.


To find out about alternative education and re-engagement programs, go to:




What if I have missed a lot of school due to poor health and illness?

If you have missed a lot of school due to chronic illness, there are support and programs that can help you:

  • Complete work on time
  • Take part in exams
  • Improve your academic performance
  • Keep up relationships with your school friends
  • Get around the school environment
  • Take part in some school activities
  • Feel more confident and motivated.

For more information, go to: