When a student nears the end of their high school career, they begin to wonder, ‘What’s next?’ It can be a very challenging question to answer, because of course it will depend on the person. What are their aspirations? Do they want to be accepted into their top university preference and begin the next year, or take a break to travel, work full time or discover their passions? There are so many options available after high school.
Many students have an idea of their ideal field of work and decide to go straight from high school to university. Fortunately, university is far more flexible than school, and allows for students to balance their work, study and social lives. University graduates also tend to be more employable and earn higher starting salaries, they are also more likely to earn higher wages over the course of their careers.
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
VET courses, including TAFE (Technical and Further Education) courses, are usually the first choice for those interested in working in trades, hospitality, hairdressing and beauty. These courses are generally shorter and far more industry-focused and practical than university degrees. VET can also be a pathway to studying at university for those who didn’t initially receive the required HSC/ATAR score.
There are over 700 private colleges in Australia offering a huge range of courses. Studying at a private college is, in a way, like having the best of both worlds (TAFE and university). There is flexibility with contact hours and course durations, like at university. However, private colleges are also very similar to TAFE in that they are very industry-focused and committed to recruiting experienced teachers. Some private colleges are even dedicated to one or two specialised areas, like design or hair and beauty.
After 13 years of study, it is understandable that some students just want a break. Some choose to work part-time and relax, whereas others go travelling and experience new places and cultures. Spending time overseas, whether on a working or leisurely holiday, can be big bonus on your resume thanks to the invaluable life experience gained. There are also gap-year programs that allow you to get some valuable volunteering experience while you see the world.
Get a job
Further education isn’t for everybody. Some people choose to jump straight into the workforce. Doing this will not only build up your resume, but also your bank account. While others are stressing over exam papers, you could already be starting from the bottom and climbing the corporate ladder. You can always go back to university at a later date, or complete a course online while you work.
Do an apprenticeship
Apprenticeships combine work and study to ensure that students come out with the hands-on experience they need to succeed in the workforce. Apprenticeships are common among aspiring tradespeople, hairdressers and beauticians. As an apprentice, your employer will pay part or all of your education costs while you study – which is a great option for those who cannot afford upfront fees.
Whatever path you choose after high school, you should know that it’s not exactly the make-or-break decision it seems to be. These days it’s common to commit to study at different stages of life and to change careers, so don’t be afraid to start wherever feels right and see where life and study takes you.