(From left) Ballina High School student Nada van Kempen, 16, Sonny Thomas, 16, of Trinity College and Ellyssa Mchinley, 17, of Ballina High School are among 54 students who have been given the chance to start university early at Southern Cross University.
(From left) Ballina High School student Nada van Kempen, 16, Sonny Thomas, 16, of Trinity College and Ellyssa Mchinley, 17, of Ballina High School are among 54 students who have been given the chance to start university early at Southern Cross University. Jay Cronan

The ultimate Head-Start

A SELECT group of Northern Rivers high school students has been granted the chance to start university early.

A new Southern Cross University program called Head-Start is giving 54 senior high school students the chance to do a university subject while finishing their high school studies.

The students can study Communications and Organisation or Human Physiology and were chosen from a group of 90. The university subject will count towards their HSC and future tertiary courses.

Ballina High School student Nada van Kempen, 16, was a successful applicant and said she had always wanted to attend university. Head-Start has helped her reach her goal early.

"I'd like to learn a bit more about the whole communications and really just get an idea of what university life is like," she said.

However Ms van Kempen admitted it was a big step.

"It's nerve-racking because I'm 16 and going to uni while everyone else is at a swimming carnival, but I think it's a great opportunity and why not grab it while I can," she said.

The program has been designed not to interrupt students' high school study timetables.

"I'm doing two units less at school because this counts for two units, so I have lots of study periods I can do the work in," said another successful applicant, Sonny Thomas, 16, of Trinity College.

Head-Start project officer Danielle Fisher said the program would benefit the entire community.

"If we can give young students the confidence to go to uni, we can get them to learn and to put back into the community," she explained.

Students will not be charged fees to take part in Head-Start and will be assigned second-year student mentors to help them adapt to university life.



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