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The College Question

By stayingmum - 30 December 2009 25

We have moved to the north side from interstate and have missed the chance to get to schools prior to enrolment. My daughter is about to start college and has some special needs that could use the support of good pastoral care and also has arts/music (contemporary, not formal) and drama interests.

Can any RiotACTers give a lowdown on strengths and weaknesses between Dickson, Canberra, Narrabundah and Lake Ginninderra Colleges? My daughter definitely wants to qualify for uni but not brilliant academically – should this make a difference to the college she chooses with all the scaling and ranking they do? (We are having a bit of trouble getting our head around the system!) Thanks!

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25 Responses to
The College Question
molongloid 10:18 pm 31 Dec 09

luther_bendross said :

What is the difference between high schools and colleges? …it looks like colleges are usually years 10 – 12 and have a more vocational leaning than pure adacemia.

ACT “college” can be read as “sixth form college” – the place you go to do your final couple of years. High school ends in year 10.

georgesgenitals 8:42 pm 31 Dec 09

bd84 said :

The scaling makes very little difference to results, it’s no different to NSW scaling HSC exam results. The major benefit is that the overall result is not dependent on a extremely high pressure end of year 12 exams, rather performance across years 11 and 12.

NSW schools have been using combined years 11 and 12 assessment and exams for many years. It is a fallacy that it ‘all depends on the final exam’.

s-s-a 7:56 pm 31 Dec 09

Apologies if this is considered to be OT, but forgive my poor understanding. What is the difference between high schools and colleges?

Public high schools in Canberra only go to year 10. Colleges are for year 11 and 12. In any given area there will be more high schools than colleges – eg Woden/Weston Ck has high schools at Alfred Deakin, Melrose and Stromlo but just one college (Canberra College at Phillip). Similarly there are a handful of high schools in most other regions – Inner North, Inner South, Tuggers, Belco etc but just one college each.

JC 7:10 pm 31 Dec 09

luther_bendross said :

Apologies if this is considered to be OT, but forgive my poor understanding. What is the difference between high schools and colleges? Briefly looking through them internets, it looks like colleges are usually years 10 – 12 and have a more vocational leaning than pure adacemia. Until now I had no idea there was a difference, I thought college was an American term for our uni. Please explain?

College in the ACT is years 11 and 12. The classes are split into two general streams. Using your terms one stream is more vocational and the other academia. Students can mix and match classes to suit themselves. What the mix is is up to the student to decide based on weather they want to go to uni after college in which case they will do more ‘academic style classes’ or work where the classes are more practically orientated.

When I did college I hedged my bets. I did the bare minimum number of academtic classes (called T for tertiary back then) to qualify for a TER plus the more practical classes I wanted to do, such as electronics and sport.

Peanut 7:07 pm 31 Dec 09

luther_bendross: In the ACT we have a govt college system which is quite different from the rest of Australia. High Schools go from years 7 (usually) to 10 and then College is years 11 and 12 although DET is beginning to mix things up a bit and Copland now goes from year 7 technically. Non gov schools call themselves what they like.

gun street girl 6:06 pm 31 Dec 09

luther_bendross said :

Apologies if this is considered to be OT, but forgive my poor understanding. What is the difference between high schools and colleges? Briefly looking through them internets, it looks like colleges are usually years 10 – 12 and have a more vocational leaning than pure adacemia. Until now I had no idea there was a difference, I thought college was an American term for our uni. Please explain?

I think the college system is peculiar to the ACT (and is one of our greatest achievements). Essentially, “college” in the ACT is a public school that only takes Year 11 and 12 students. They tend to have pretty big student intakes, and can therefore offer a vast array of subjects – accredited for both vocational training, and for tertiary entrance – depending on the desire and abilities of the individual student.

LegalNut 4:14 pm 31 Dec 09

Based on what you have said, Narrabundah is the college you want. Canberra may also work. I would rule out LGC and Dickson based on the interests listed.

As far as getting into Narrabundah, it is tricky if you live outside of the catchment area however it is not impossible. You need to position yourself in such as way as to show that Narrabundah (if that is your chosen college) is the only college that you can attend. Generally, you need to show that the college is the only one offering certain courses that you want to study (eg Politics, Forestry, etc). It is especially helpful if these courses are essential to further tertiary study in the area of your choice. Do some research and you should be able to get in where you want, even if it takes a couple of appeals to the department.

luther_bendross 2:50 pm 31 Dec 09

Apologies if this is considered to be OT, but forgive my poor understanding. What is the difference between high schools and colleges? Briefly looking through them internets, it looks like colleges are usually years 10 – 12 and have a more vocational leaning than pure adacemia. Until now I had no idea there was a difference, I thought college was an American term for our uni. Please explain?

necrocelia 9:52 am 31 Dec 09

If she wants to do drama and music I’d say that Narrabundah would be her best option. Bundah also performs really well in regards to the scaling system thing- when I finished in 2007 my UAI went up substantially. Without that, i wouldn’t have been able to get into my degree at ANU! I went through a few medical and emotional ups and downs during year 11 and 12, but there was always someone available to talk to and help me through. I also don’t really think I’m brilliant academically either- so Narrabundah was great for me!

Peanut 7:34 am 31 Dec 09

She may not have a choice about the college as places were allocated a long time ago and the only college which would have to accept her is the one in whose catchment area you are living. http://www.bsss.act.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/106452/media_cohortstats_novet.pdf gives you some relative performance data.

Pastoral care would be pretty much the same no matter where you go. Music, Arts and drama – Narrabundah would have the edge I think but if you dont live in the area that could be somewhat tricky.

dusty 9:52 pm 30 Dec 09

Cross Narrabundah off your list. If you’re not in area you won’t get in.

Della 7:23 pm 30 Dec 09

I recently graduated from Canberra College, and as far as I’m concerned it’s an excellent school. The teachers are great and do their job excellently, there is a large and helpful bunch of administration staff, and the kids aren’t too bad. There is a brilliant English department, and the rest of the faculty’s aren’t bad either.

They have a good drama/music program (the music teacher there is absolutely amazing, and bloody hilarious, as well), and they have a great support-system for students with special needs. They’ll go out of their way to help students achieve and feel comfortable in the college environment.

And even if your daughter doesn’t do so well academically, Canberra College has a deal thing with University of Canberra to help students get in to university. I got a UAI (or is it called ATAR now?) which wasn’t high enough to be accepted into a University, and I was accepted into UC because of the scheme.

gun street girl 6:48 pm 30 Dec 09

Narrabundah is and always has been strong for drama, arts, photography, music and the like – whilst also offering a huge range of more traditional subjects. It’s invariably oversubscribed, though – so unless you live in a geographical feeder area, she probably won’t get in.

The college system is great for kids who are mature enough to cope with the extra freedom and responsibility, not so much for kids who need more of a push to work and attend classes by force. Generally, the environment is a lot more casual and relaxed, which works wonders for some.

bd84 6:01 pm 30 Dec 09

It’s been a fair few years since I’ve been at College, but where you daughter can attend may be limited to your place of residence and is a bit more restricted than the High Schools. If it has not changed in the last few years, first preference will always go to the students living in the immediate suburbs surrounding the college and to students from feeder high schools. A college like Narrabundah will be more diffcult to get enrolled into if you live on the north side.

Canberra is known for performing arts, Narrabundah for academic and IB courses, Dickson sport I think, Lake Ginninderra.. umm the lake? Narrabundah is normally the top ranked College academically, but most public Colleges in Canberra are generally fairly similar in comparison. I haven’t seen 2009 published results, but I may have missed it while on holidays.

The scaling makes very little difference to results, it’s no different to NSW scaling HSC exam results. The major benefit is that the overall result is not dependent on a extremely high pressure end of year 12 exams, rather performance across years 11 and 12.

grunge_hippy 5:02 pm 30 Dec 09

As a (primary) teacher, this is what I know through the grapevine…

if she is artistic, narrabundah is the go. they have a very good theatre/drama program. dont let people tell you ‘bundah is dodgy, the college has a good reputation, it just happens to be in what was a dodgy area. It is slowly becoming full of yuppies because of its proximity to civic. I am not sure about their pastoral care, but I hear most colleges now have support for those with special needs.

Lake is for your sporty type, they have alot of AIS athletes there and is meant to be good academically as well.

the others I cannot comment on, I dont know them as well. Dickson was threatened with closing but the community rallied and prevented it. They seem to have a good reputation and strong community support.

any school has is dodgy element, and college is no exception, however given that most kids have the choice to go onto college if they want, (at 16 years of age) you tend to get the kids that want to be there as opposed to have to.

hope that helps.

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