Go your own way: do VCE or VCAL at TAFE

Go your own way: do VCE or VCAL at TAFE

School isn’t the only option for crafting a career you love. For Johanne and Nellie, doing VCAL and VCE at TAFE was the best way to go.


Nellie Vance says she was “never a big fan of school”. The structure just wasn’t for her and her mental health was suffering as a result.  

After weighing up her options, she decided to complete her VCE at Chisholm, which she says was “the best decision she’s ever made”. Nellie ended up graduating with an ATAR of 93.3 and has continued to a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne.

Like Nellie, Johanne Mail was also unhappy at her traditional high school. She enrolled in VCAL at Chisholm and has had a great experience so far. “Once I started TAFE, my family saw that I was getting happier and happier – because I made new friends,” she says.

If you’re after an alternative way to complete your VCE or VCAL, TAFE could be a great fit. Here are some of the reasons students like Nellie and Johanne thrive at Chisholm.

You gain more independence over your learning

Nellie loved the additional independence and responsibility she was granted at TAFE. “At Chisholm, you do three to four hours a day and you have each class once a week,” she says. “That made it so much easier because I wasn’t going from class to class, and I wasn’t at school all day, every day – it gave me a lot more freedom to do things around VCE.”

The student-teacher dynamic at TAFE was also a big change. “You call all the teachers by their first names and you’re treated like an adult,” Nellie says. “And the teachers really care about you and really want you to do well.”

Johanne has also appreciated the independence she’s had over her learning at TAFE. “I really enjoyed the idea of having such freedom in VCAL through Chisholm,” she says. “I’ve found it awesome. Doing a horticulture class, which was on a different campus, actually helped me become more independent.”

You get the same qualification as at high school

Nellie says one of the big misconceptions she’s heard about doing VCE at TAFE is that you don’t get an ATAR score.

In fact, you get exactly the same qualification as you would if you completed your studies at a high school.  “It’s almost assumed automatically that you won’t do well if you go to TAFE,” Nellie says, but it actually comes down to the effort you put in, just like school. “It’s the exact same thing as in high school – if you want to do well, then you have the opportunity to do that.”  

You can build great relationships

Johanne has found her studies at Chisholm genuinely fun (“there are a lot of laughs”) and building supportive relationships has helped her grow more confident. “I’ve been loving everyone around me,” she says. “Everyone is so cheerful and fun to be around. “I’ve made new friendships, gained new life skills and confidence, and really developed who I am.”

You’ll create new opportunities – and can fast track into further study

A highlight for Johanne has been trying out horticulture, although she’s now eyeing off a different career path. “I’ve learnt so much from the horticulture class and, while it’s not a career I want to do, it’s definitely a hobby I will enjoy for the rest of my life,” she says. “I’m considering doing something else that I think I’ll be really good at – which is teaching.”

After graduating from Chisholm, Nellie got her first-preference university placement and is now majoring in psychology and criminology. She’s also a psychology tutor for year 11 and 12 students in disadvantaged schools. “I don’t know where I would have ended up if I continued through the high school system,” she says.  

If you'd like to pursue higher education, one advantage of completing your VCE or VCAL at Chisholm is the option to fast-track into a Chisholm diploma or bachelor the following year – so you can start doing what you love sooner.

There is support to help you make the transition

Making the shift to a new campus and new way of learning may sound daunting, but Chisholm offers lots of support to new students.

Nellie says she found it easy to ask for information when she was enrolling. “It was actually really, really easy – and the coordinators answered my million and six questions.”

Johanne also had a good experience: “I found it so easy and simple – everyone was so nice and helpful with enrolling. I felt really conformable.”

Nellie’s main advice for current high school students considering TAFE? “Don’t listen to other people – at the end of the day, you’re the only person who can decide what’s best for you. Just give it a shot.”

Thinking about doing years 11 and 12 at TAFE? Learn more about your options at Chisholm.