To Year 12 students, September through November is that totally normal, not-at-all daunting season where you’re asked to decide what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.
Except that it’s not – let’s just put that to bed right now. This time is merely the next step in figuring out what you’re into and how you’re going to earn some coin in the near future.
For a lot of students though, making the leap from high school to uni can leave you waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, so here are a few tricks of the trade that will (hopefully) help you feel more confident in your decisions.
1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
If the main cause of your stress is the fear you’ll miss out on a course or uni that you’ve had your heart set on, try keeping an open mind.
What you do in your first year of uni isn’t necessarily going to determine what you do for the rest of your time there, so you could pick a broad area of study, like arts, business, design, or engineering, and hone in on a major in the second year.
A bunch of my friends didn’t get into their desired course at the start but instead ended up trying something new. If they were still intent on following through with their original plan, they used means like UniLink and other certificates to circle back to it once they got a bit of experience.
And if you’re not 100% convinced that a three-or-more year commitment is right for you, this is a great way to dip a toe in.
2. Join student communities
My coworker Steff, a quiet and proud introvert, recommends looking into student communities when you’re scoping out unis.
While it undoubtedly helps you feel more involved in the general campus chitter-chatter, it also, as Steff suggests, “forces you to make friends”.
As someone who was not part of any student community of any sort, and who had a total of half a friend throughout my four-year course, I strongly vouch for Steff’s recommendation.
3. Avoid getting too ahead of yourself
The only hiccup about planning ahead in life is that often, if you don’t meet the standards of your own plan, you’ll be more inclined to put yourself down.
I mean sure, it’s never a bad thing to have a rough idea of what you want to do but just make sure your plans are reasonable and aren’t resistant to change.
The last thing you want to do is become a doctor because you agreed that was the plan when you were 10 but have since learned you hate blood and hospitals.
Go with the flow.
4. Use the resources available
Another thing I wish I had done is use more of the resources that are handed to students on a platter.
There were plenty of open days and seminars and websites and friends I could’ve used to help me make a proper decision about uni, but I decided against it, probably because there was a Simpsons marathon on TV.
Times have changed a tad, too. Now unis such as Swinburne have created virtual experiences like Swintopia, that let you roam around their virtual campus and find out as much info (and student discounts) as possible – I would’ve killed for a Swintopia during my school days.
There are also resources like the VTAC-Tical Toolkit, which is essentially an armada of helpful info all in one place, including webinars, explainer articles, ATAR and SEAS calculators, plus an AMA Week where you can pitch all of your uni-related questions to course experts and current students.
The Plan of VTAC webinar is going down on Sep 15 if you fancy it, which will give you everything you need to know about VTAC after one hour. Plus, the AMA Week kicks off on Sep 14 so start working on those burning questions to ask course experts and student ambassadors.
5. Stop comparing yourself to your mates
Just like it’s important to not be hard on yourself, it’s equally crucial that you don’t use your friends as some sort of unrealistic benchmark for your own progress.
Yes, ol’ mate Johnno might’ve graduated Year 12 with an ATAR score of 99.99999999 and he’s the youngest person to feature in Time Magazine’s 18 Under 18 and his parents bought him a house to celebrate his acceptance into Schmancy Pants university, but so what? This is your life and if you’re constantly comparing your journey to others, you’re going to have a rough time.
Plus, word on the street is Johnno never got his pen license so really, who’s the dud now?Image: Normal People