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School leavers; thirteen years down – your whole life to go!

handlers 2014Written by Caitlin Heppner – Country To Canberra Teen Blogger

It’s your first day of high school; eight years of schooling down, five more to go! That’s over half way, and before you know it you’ve completed school and are chucked out into the ‘real world’! Suddenly you’ve got people on your back to get a job and you don’t know what to do. Millions of questions are flung at you to help you figure out a career choice but they don’t help. What do you do?

You look back on those 13 years you spent learning to read and write, working  to set yourself up for later in life. School was a huge part of your life, 13 out of 18 years is a fair whack and now you’re expected to adjust to no timetable, no holidays and no excuse to not get a job! What are you supposed to do? Sit on the lounge with a bowl of popcorn and a McLeod’s Daughters marathon maybe…. Yes please!



Let’s rewind shall we; it is your high school graduation night. 200 of your school friends are sitting in a huge hall, waiting for walk out of those doors one last time. Some are excited, some are nervous. Some are ready and some are not. The school achievers are called up to receive awards; they all know what they want to do. Most are going to university for a further 3 or so years of schooling (totally not your thing!).  A few are setting off to travel the world and discover new things and some have already found jobs which they enjoy.

But not you.

You don’t know what you want to do.

A few years ago, you did some work placement at a couple of places, you liked them but they weren’t really right for you. So where to now?

Well maybe I can help you!

I left school two years ago to undertake a School Based Apprenticeship and formally graduated year twelve last year. As a school leaver, I’ve faced the ‘real world’, but I was lucky. I left and headed straight into a full-time job. I left home, but I had my life sorted. I was one of the lucky ones, so for those of you who don’t know what to expect, here is some advice!

  • Take every opportunity you are offered!  Don’t be afraid to take those couple days off of school to try new things, anything! Because how else are you supposed to discover your interests? School work can always be caught up on or extended (if you ask nicely of course!) I took a day off of school in year 5, and that day I experienced something that had led me to my dream career and many of my successes!
  • Not everyone has to go to Uni! Do you feel like you’re pressured to go to University? It’s not all about Uni you know! If Uni isn’t your thing (or numerous more years of books, homework and lectures), explore other options pre-graduation, try things you may not have thought of before! What about TAFE or an apprenticeship? Trust me, there are plenty more options, if you just seek them out!! I completed my secondary schooling through a school based traineeship, I didn’t have a single subject in year 12! Instead I got a head start in my career. Now, you may be thinking these options are only for people who aren’t academically talented, am I right? Well, let me say this; I was a straight A student, top of my year level and yet I chose a practical option to complete my HSC and I am still as successful as anyone else in my year level, not everyone needs an ATAR!
  • Be prepared and have fun! Now you’re probably asking yourself right now, isn’t leaving school always going to be fun? Unfortunately, not all of the time, but if you can prepare and explore your options for later in life while still at school, you’ll find that things will be a lot smoother sailing in years to come! Be organised, have back-up options! Keep your foot in as many doors as possible so that you’re never out of options. 

Most importantly, remember to have fun and enjoy life to its fullest!  After all; being a school leaver opens up a whole new world