4 Things They Don’t Tell You About Finishing School

By Rhiannon Towell

As you progress through Senior schooling, things start building up. There are suddenly a lot more expectations than good grades and behaviour. All of a sudden the world starts handing you responsibilities: your parents want you to get a job; your friends want you to get your license; your teachers want you to pick a career, and you’re just trying to meet Friday’s assessment deadline. You do your best, of course. You find a job, you start clocking up the hours, and, at the very least, you try to answer the horrifying question of ‘what am I going to do with my life?’ because it’s slowly dawning on you that that question actually needs a real answer now.

But the thing about school is that you are there for so long, you don’t really know too much about the world outside it. Sure, parents, teachers and social media help paint a picture, but chances are, you’ll realise the picture is missing a few minor details.

If you’re lucky, you might have heard this once or twice, but chances are, you don’t believe it. Either way, there will come a time not long after graduation when you and all your friends are looking for work, and you will realise that no matter your interests, or how different your grades or ATAR were you will all be on an even playing field, and the things that will probably count the most will have nothing to do with school.

That doesn’t mean you should give up on school, it’s important to finish, but just bear in mind that in the long run how you faired in High School doesn’t really matter to the bigger picture.

Seriously! Just because you’re graduating and the world thinks you need a degree to achieve anything, that doesn’t mean you need to rush into Uni. It’s not going anywhere.

Lots of school leavers apply for university but take a gap year, or they decide to study for a semester or two, then defer, or drop out. This doesn’t apply to everyone, there are still lots of kids out there who know exactly what they want to do and want to do it now, and if that’s you then there is absolutely no reason not to go to Uni.

But, if you’re studying because you don’t know what else to do, or are still unsure about where you see yourself in the future, then give it a pass for now. You can go back later, whether in one year, five years, or ten, and hopefully by then, you’ll have something to drive you through those three long years.

In the meantime, test the waters, pursue the things you’re interested in; you might even find a way into your preferred industry without the stress of study. If you don’t know what interests you, then go find something. Try new and different jobs in both regional and suburban areas; volunteer and travel overseas and within Australia and enjoy yourself. You just finished 12, no doubt tedious, years of assignments, exams and grades, treat yourself to some new experiences!

Just because you do not want to study, does not mean you are closed off to learning. It just means you don’t have an appetite for things like frantic note-taking and cramming before exams, and that is absolutely okay. There are plenty of other ways to learn and to pursue the things you love. Gaining hands on experience in your industry is a great place to start, opening doors to further opportunity and helping you establish a network.

If you’re one for trying new things and expanding your range of experiences, then it won’t hurt to complete some basic courses, like your RSA, Food Health and Safety, or a barista course, where you can gain skills useful in a variety of industries, and may improve your employability.

The most terrifying thing about graduating, is that once that final bell rings and you step out into the real world, you’re on your own. Even with family and friends around you, eventually you will have to start making decisions that no one else can make for you, the biggest one being how to live your life. Sometimes, you might be afraid to try something new, other times, you might be afraid to let someone down by choosing a different path to the one they expect from you, whether that be a family member or friend.

These are decisions that nobody else can make, and few can help with, and it is terrifying. In the end, though, what it comes down to is whether the decision will help you – will it make you happy? Will it bring you freedom? Is it an opportunity you hadn’t considered before?

It’s time to start thinking about what you really want to get out of life, and if you’re not sure, then you have plenty of time to change your mind down the track.

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