Local Year 12s anxious they may need to study into next year for ATAR

By Charmayne Allison

Shepparton's Year 12 students are having mixed reactions about the impact of coronavirus on their futures, despite the Victorian Government assuring all students will finish the year.

Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino said all Year 12 students would receive an ATAR for their year.

“There will be no need for a Year 13,” he said.

“This year will look different, but VCE and VCAL will conclude.”

Although he has assured students to be patient and "focus on your studies", many are just coming to terms with what this means for them.

Shepparton Christian College school captain Nick Geerling has been dreaming of a career in law since the tender age of 12.

Shepparton Christian College school captain Nick Geerling.

He was hoping to take a gap year in 2021 to save up before diving into studies, with his sights set on the University of Melbourne.

But COVID-19 has placed this dream under pressure.

“I'm a bit worried about this possible extension, I think it could negatively affect how we actually perform when it comes to exams,” Nick said.

“We'll have to study for longer and hold onto information for an extended amount of time. This will increase anxiety for a lot of students.

“There's already a lot of uncertainty when it comes to Year 12.

“But now there's so much added uncertainty about what's actually going to go ahead and what schooling will look like this year.”

Nick said online learning, while necessary, was already presenting challenges.

“Teachers are disadvantaged not being able to teach us face to face, which means our learning is disadvantaged,” he said.

“We've been told SACS will be similar to distance education SACS for students who don't attend school.

“Parents will supervise and we'll sign a form promising we're completing the exams under the correct conditions.

“But there's no doubt there will be a massive increase in cheating because of this, it will be unmanageable.

“However, I understand the precautions are being put in place to stop the spread of the virus — and that's what is most important at this time.”

Mariana Silvestre, who is in her final year of school at Notre Dame College, Shepparton, hopes to study medicine or nursing at the University of Melbourne next year.

She said there could be benefits to the school year extending into 2021.

“It was a shock in the beginning, but now I think it's a good idea because if we actually end up missing school due to COVID-19, we'll have more time to study,” she said.

“It does stress me out that Year 12 could be extended. But without an extension, we could be at a serious disadvantage.

“Hopefully this extension will also allow us to get some more face-to-face time with teachers after this is all over, as I really struggle to study online.”

Taking it day by day: Greater Shepparton Secondary College captain Farid Hassani will wait and see how it all pans out.

Greater Shepparton Secondary College Year 12 student Farid Hassani has been largely positive about the situation, despite the overwhelming uncertainty.

“It's a bit strange, because something like this has never happened before,” he said.

“Nobody knows what's going on.

“I'm just taking it day by day, and seeing how everything plays out.”

Farid, who is also college captain, hopes to study a Bachelor of Science or biomedicine in Melbourne next year, and has faith it will all work out.

“The way I think about it is: it's not just me, it's every student in the state,” he said.

“I trust the government to make pathways for us to go to university.

“I believe they'll find a way.”

Notre Dame College Shepparton Year 12 student Mariana Silvestre said there could be some benefits to the school year extending into 2021.

But for additional reassurance, some students are looking at applying to universities for special consideration due to unexpected circumstances in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nick said he would look into this if circumstances continued to deteriorate.

“I'd apply for any consideration I can get,” he said.

“And it's a comfort to know the government is talking to universities about lowering ATAR requirements and allowing more students in at this time.”

With Madi Chwasta.