So you’ve finished school, are awaiting your marks and wondering what is next? Well luckily for you, you aren’t alone. You may feel like you are the only one that doesn’t have a plan in place or is unsure about next steps, but trust me most of your peers will have the same dilemma.
It’s OK to be unsure at 17 or 18 what you want to do with the rest of your life and as your experiences begin to broaden you will start to realise what you like and don’t like through trial and error, you will take jobs just for the experience, you will meet people who will help you along your journey and probably become lifelong friends. This is an exciting time in your life, you just have to be open and willing to learn.
Studies suggest that the average person will make a career change 5 – 7 times in their life, many you will have the chance to work with many people, across many different fields. Take me for example, when I was growing up social media wasn’t even a thing, and now that is one of my other full time jobs, I take food photography images for restaurants and bars and edit roll them out across social media to grow there reach and following. I couldn’t know at 17 or 18 that would one day be my career because at that stage my career didn’t exist!
With our constant work place changes and with the speed of technology development, it’s probably likely that you too will one day undertake a role that isn’t even a thing right now, so take a deep breath, stress less and have a think about what life will look like post HSC.
Your HSC marks do not define you or your career choice
If your marks aren’t exactly what you were hoping for then that is OK! Think about your motivations and interests and pursue the study that excites you, there is no point in doing a course because you had the marks, when in actual fact in your heart you wanted to do something quite different. We often put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to make our parents happy or to align ourselves with a career that we believe will give us prestige amongst our peers, but the truth is without happiness you have nothing. There is no point taking part in future learning that makes you miserable, think about what is really motivating you to choose your course and ask yourself why you want to do that course. If the answer is because you love it and it makes you happy and excited then full steam ahead, but if you are doing it for someone else, then it might be time to re-think your next steps.
Make your own way in the world
Often we make choices because that’s what our friends are doing, or because it seems like the easier option but with your university and course options sometimes it is better to look outside the box. It’s only natural the thought of leaving friends behind to continue your schooling can be quite overwhelming but sometimes the best course for you isn’t the one your BFF is going to our even the University in your area, you really need to research where people in the profession you want to be in studied and also your learning style and make the right decision for you. Take some time to reflect and think through the factors that are influencing you on which university you are applying to.
If your marks aren’t exactly what you were hoping for it isn’t the end of the world
Just because you are disappointed with your marks doesn’t mean you will not achieve exactly what you want out of life. There are a whole range of people who were high school drop outs who have gone on to do amazing things in the world, the one thing they had in common was determination and a strong work ethic. Sure, good grades will give you more options upfront but in the long run no one is going to remember or even ask you about your ATAR score, most won’t even bother asking if you passed university.
There are many different paths to the same destination, you can look at starting on another course and transferring, single subject enrolments or a private college. In this day and age there are so many alternate pathways to choose from, you just have to research and find out the best path for you and where you want to be.
If you take off a gap year use it wisely
A lot of people defer their studies because they are still uncertain of exactly what they want to do, many travel, some stay at home and get part time jobs or volunteer. Whatever you choose to do in that time is fine as long as you use that time to your advantage. Having time off from studying can be a great growth experience and you should use that year off to test the waters, enrich your life and put the steps in place to ensure you are working toward a goal. Time goes by so quickly, use the year to sharpen your skill set or enroll in a night course. Make sure if you are taking the time off it is for the right reasons.
Lastly, your learning doesn’t stop the minute you finish school or even uni, in fact this really is the beginning! The main advice I can give you is to be open to learning from your peers, lecturers and bosses. The road ahead won’t be easy, but it will sure be worth it. It’s OK to change direction, quit that job you hate, go back to studying in a few years, whatever you want to do is ultimately up to you. So go on and live the life you love!