Year twelve can be a massively stressful period for a lot of students and their parents. Trying to zero in on exactly what course or job, where and when. How the heck are you going to afford to live in a flat when you already put the deposit on the Balinese resort for schoolies?
What everyone will tell you is that you are approaching crunch time, and in less than a year someone is going to sit you down and ask you “what you want to do with your life?”
This is a remarkably hard question to answer for almost everyone. According to Student Voices in Transition, students entering university apply for one course, but average seven careers (not jobs but careers!) in their lifetime. Which is an astounding amount considering your school careers councilor is probably struggling to get you to pick just one.
Some of the smartest, most genuinely intelligent people I know are taking a gap year because they couldn’t decide in time; but importantly they recognized that they didn’t have to know just yet. Sometimes it takes being out in the real world to realize you don’t want to spend your life leaning half out of a drive-through window, and that will ultimately help push you towards a better path for you personally.
A little anecdote for you:
I have known exactly what course I wanted to study at university since i was nine years old. Sure I’ve taken an interest in other things along the way but when it came down to it I knew what I wanted to do. So the councilor sat me in front of a computer and told me to start compiling my short list and guess what… the double degree I wanted was only offered in two locations both more than two hours from where I live. I didn’t have the money to live on residency, I couldn’t afford the train fare or long hours of commuting. So I settled for a course closer to home but not the double degree I had been dreaming of.
A month after I was accepted, the second offers were going out and I jumped back on the website to see if any new courses had opened up (because I like making myself sad, who would know why?). To my horror, the university my boyfriend was attending had decided to open up a double degree, just like I wanted, accepting more than three times the amount of students as my original offer. But it was too late because I had accepted my first offer and begun planning for my next four years of study there.
It was a crushing blow in a sense, but I have decided now that I’m studying, it was probably for the best. Nobody gets any work done with their boyfriend on the same campus do they?
So here is a little list of the reasons you should give next time someone tells you it’s time to decide and you know it ain’t gonna happen yet:
1. Chances are the course of your dreams might not be at university. There are plenty of options offered around the country by training institutes and sometimes the certificates you need can be acquired through working (which has the added bonus of being a paying education).
2. You are barely old enough to vote, how can someone expect you to decide exactly how your future should pan out this second?
3. You might get pregnant on schoolies and have to delay your future anyways, so why not put it off for a few more months?
4. You are going to take six or twelve months off to work hard, save up to rent a nice little flat near the university of your choice so you don’t have to sponge off your parents.
5. Now is not the right time for you to do further study. This can be for personal, financial, familial reasons and they are all valid. There are plenty of people at university who came along well after they turned the big 3.0 because it was a better time for them. There is a man over seventy in my history minor and he’s so good to talk to because he actually experienced some of the stuff we talk about. How much will people in your future classes love your insights into real life, if you actually had a chance to live it?
6. Don’t be afraid to tell people if you just want to go straight out into the workforce. Not every job in the world requires a high ATAR or a diploma. There are plenty of well paying jobs, even home grown businesses that blossomed from the passion and expertise of an ‘uneducated’ entrepreneur. And the world loves a go-getter.
So next time someone demands you pick up a pen and map out your life, tell them kindly to stick it, and follow your own path. Wherever it may lead.