THE winter solstice is becoming a distant memory, and minds of parents of Year 12 students, if not those of the students themselves, are turning to life after school.
While some children have a goal and life seemingly is mapped already, many are unclear about their future and even their likes and aspirations. Uncertainty, fees, lack of direction – as a parent, and work colleague of others in a similar situation, I know it can be a time of great stress. But also, one of great opportunity.
Perhaps the biggest stressor, and in my opinion the most misdirected stressor, is the focus on ATAR. While such focus sits well with those students pursuing a clear career direction, it’s much less valuable for those experiencing significant uncertainty.
Why? Because nowadays getting into university is open to pretty much everyone, not just those with high ATARs. If you doubt me then perhaps you have not looked at alternative pathways such as STEPS programs, RPL or even taking on a more general course with a lower entry requirement, and then upgrading through blitzing a GPA. And the interesting thing here is that by my (mature-age entry) experience at least, university is in some ways, easier than school – not because of the subject matter but because you deal with it on your own terms, not because you were forced.
Aside from university, opportunities abound. Apprenticeships are a well-recognised pathway into the workforce, but they are only one of myriad opportunities. These days you can get “tickets” in almost anything.
Combine Cert 3 in outdoor recreation with RSA, and forklift ticket and you are well on your way to a role on an island resort. Get a certificate in aged or disability care and the relevant “card”, and you are immediately exposed to two of the fastest growing sectors in the economy. Get a construction card opens up labouring opportunities, which through labour hire companies and contractors can be a great way to “have a look around”. I know of one 19-year-old who was making $1000 a week clear, four days on three days off – hard yakka, yes, but nothing like that to get you fit, outdoors and cashed up.
A really good way to go, if you can find a university that offers it, is to dovetail short courses and tickets so they build up into a diploma and then a degree.
While there is a lot of talk regarding a “gap year”, it is really worth thinking about what you might accomplish during that year.
Perhaps you want to have a break from study, or think about what career you would like to pursue. Maybe you want to save up for a car. Interestingly though, a gap year of 12 months might not be the best way to play it. If for example you work earning a market wage for 18 months in a 24month period, you can be classed as an “independent” by Centrelink.