Choosing the right career pathway is one of the biggest challenges a young person faces at a time when they are coming to grips with adulthood and transitioning away from a structured school environment, or perhaps even leaving home for the first time.
As parents you want the best for your child and each individual has different needs and ideas. The best you can do is to support them through this transition, provide them with as much quality information that you can and hope that this results in a sound choice that serves them well both now and into the future.
We recognise that this is a challenging time, and we have tried to put as much impartial information as possible in one place to make this transition easier. We hope that you find it useful.
For many programmes, subject selection at school is very important, as well as the results achieved. If the students wants to do a science based programme without science, or engineering without maths for example, they may be out of luck. However for some other programmes, a student’s attitude and reasons for choosing that area of study are the most important qualities that tutors are looking for.
To have the widest options available, doing English, science and maths for as long as they can at school will help their chances. Interview technique is important too - many courses require an interview prior to enrolment. Things for your student to think about beforehand include why they have chosen that particular career path and what they want to do in the future. Asking some intelligent questions about the course also helps!
They should be punctual, engaged and enthusiastic in their interview to show that they are keen. Finally, any work experience, paid or voluntary in their area of choice, shows that they have put some thought into their future career.
This link relates to preparing for job interviews, but many of the principles are the same as applying for a popular course at any tertiary provider where an interview is needed.
Bay of Plenty Polytechnic staff members are unable to disclose information to parents regarding a student’s progress or results without the permission of the student.
Some subjects can only be studied at university, such as dentistry or medicine. Other areas are the domain of polytechnics such as the trades, but in many areas they cross over. Where the outcome is the same qualification (for example, Bachelor of Business or Bachelor of Sport and Recreation), research conducted by the Ministry of Education suggests that there is no discrimination by industry as to the origin of this qualification.
- Read the Education Counts report "Does it really matter where you study?"
- Read more about the difference between universities and polytechs
Some students follow in their parents’ footsteps, some do what they know or what they are good at and some just want to go their own way.
Whatever the decision, it’s important that it is student driven so they take ownership of their education and feel motivated to finish what they start. Doing something because they have nothing better to do or because they feel pressured to will often result in bad choices and poor completion rates. Students need to be up for the challenge and positive about their choices.
Here are some ideas to help steer the decision making process:
- Three steps for career planning
- Survey to find areas of interest
- Choosing a tertiary qualification
- Check out the national long term skill shortage lists for job ideas
- Check out the national immediate skill shortage lists for job ideas
- Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology choices
The length of programme, whether it’s full or part-time, online or on campus and what resources are needed, etc, will affect the cost of the programme. Fees range from free programmes that run for a couple of weeks, to six month programmes – (17 academic weeks) which cost around $2500 to $3000, to full year programmes (34 academic weeks).
Sometimes this is a set fee, and sometimes it's broken down per ‘paper’, which is a credit bearing subject e.g. a paper in a business qualification might be $763, and the student has to complete eight papers a year (four per semester) so that's $6,104 plus around $80-$140 for books, per paper. In some specialist study like medicine or dentistry, the costs can be much higher. For a full breakdown of fees, refer to each institution’s website.
Try these budget calculators:
For information on how to finance your study at Toi Ohomai see our Student Loans & Allowances page.
In simplistic terms, some certificates are ‘open entry’ where no formal qualifications are needed to get in, and others e.g. level 3 or 4 certificates, students need NCEA at level 1 or level 2 from school depending on the programme.
Diplomas require Level 2 or Level 3 and it's good to keep an eye on the entry criteria throughout the year as a goal to work towards.
Each institution will have different entry criteria and some universities have a points system (based on achievement of Merits and Excellence). Some courses require an interview, character reference or a police check, and some require students to submit a portfolio of work.
For a full explanation visit each institution’s website. For mature students or students over 20 years old with relevant experience, the entry criteria may be waived on a case by case basis.
Most schools should have a comprehensive careers department. If your son or daughter has somehow managed to avoid it completely, it may be an idea to book an appointment and have a talk about what options are available to them.
There are work experience opportunities through the gateway programme, Star programmes, access to trades academies, career education classes, and guest speakers from industry and education providers. Often there are also field trips to careers expos and university and polytechnic open days, which are good ways to see what’s on offer.
To get started, have a look at:
One of the good things about polytechnics is that there are programmes that start at all levels.
Students could have University Entrance and embark directly on a path to a degree. Sometimes students can gain entry to a programme based on their Year 12 results, otherwise there are short ‘preparation for study programmes’, or bridging in maths, numeracy and literacy embedded in lower level programmes. Students often can opt for a full year bridging programme, or start in a certificate and then step up to diploma or degree level the year after.
For mature students (over 20) entry is often discretionary, based on previous achievements and life experience.
Whatever your student’s situation, each institution should have systems in place to help you achieve your goals. There is always a way to get there, it sometimes just takes a bit more time and effort on the student’s part!
- Learn more about what to do you do if you left school with no formal qualifications
- Find out more about Bridging Programmes at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic
There are a whole host of scholarships available. Some are for school leavers, mature students, subject specific, academic, sports people, leadership, arts, māori, women or people with disabilities.
Each university or polytechnic has scholarships available and some are aimed specifically at particular schools. Students are often offered more than one scholarship and providing the scholarships are from different organisations, you can apply for as many as you like. Check the institution’s website and have a look at the information below, plus pay special attention to the ‘breakout’ website which has a comprehensive list.
Bay of Plenty Polytechnic has comprehensive, integrated support services. Find out more about our student support.
Transition to tertiary study is either a welcome relief or a bit of a shock for young students coming straight from school.
All of a sudden the student is a paying client who is there by choice, so they need to be self-motivated, organised, punctual and responsible for their own learning. There are also consequences to failure. At a cost of sometimes thousands of dollars per year plus expenses, the student needs to be sure about their subject choice and commited to finishing what they start.
At Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, we are committed to helping students achieve their goals. Even though we expect our students to take ownership of their learning, support systems are in place to help them succeed. Relationships with tutors are all on a first name basis and are very real. Our success and retention statistics are excellent and, with an industry focus built into our programmes, we are confident that we are setting students up for the best chance of success.
Traditionally, polytechnics focused on practical vocational training and universities focused on theoretical academic qualifications, but there is now is a significant overlap between the two tertiary options.
Many polytechnics now offer a range of degree level programmes and direct pathways from certificates and diplomas into complementary university degrees.
Some subjects, like dentistry and medicine can only be studied at university, and polytechnics are still the logical choice for other subjects like trade qualifications, but where both options produce the same qualification (for example a Bachelor of Business or a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation) research suggests that employers usually make no distinction between a university or polytechnic qualification.
- View the infographic
- Read the blog article on this topic
- View the Education Counts report "Does it really matter where you study?"
- Read why our students (and their families) love Bay of Plenty Polytechnic
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