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Deakin Student Tom Sudholtz

What life was like after I finished Year 12

When you’re in high school, there’s a big emphasis on your Year 12 results. Will you get the ATAR you want and be accepted into your chosen course? What you hear less about, is that most Year 12s have no idea what they want to do next. You could travel, study, work, volunteer, take a break, or do a combination of those things. Having your whole life in front of you may be exciting, but it’s also confusing.

There are many possible ways to approach your life after Year 12. We spoke to three people who took different paths after high school, and found they have one thing in common: they didn’t have all the answers when they walked out of school. They discovered their passions and strengths through trial and error.

Kirsty Miller, second year medical imaging student

‘When I left school I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do. When I graduated from high school I joined the army as part of a gap year program. I worked as a full time soldier for 12 months. It was a great year. I had opportunities to travel around Australia and made friends for life, however, at the end I decided it was time to move on. So I joined the Army Reserve part time and started a science degree in Queensland. But about four months into my degree, I realised that studying science was not for me, so I completed the semester and pulled out.

‘I continued working with the army, then at the start of 2014, I packed my bags and headed to Europe and the UK for five months. This was one of my best decisions. I made a heap of friends, learned so much and got to see the world. When I got home, I decided that I wanted to return to study and become a radiographer – a career path that had seemed interesting back in school.

‘I applied for every medical imaging course on the east coast of Australia and received an offer from Deakin University’s Bachelor of Medical Imaging. At the beginning of 2015 I moved to Geelong from Brisbane. I never would have expected any of this to happen, especially having three years off before going to study. However I feel that it has all lead me to the place in my life that I want to be now.’

Tom Sudholtz, fifth year commerce and engineering student

‘Throughout high school I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to study – being strong in language skills and having an interest in history didn’t lead me towards any certain career opportunities. I was accepted into a Bachelor of Engineering/Commerce at Deakin University, and deferred for a year, taking a laboratory assistant position at Grain Innovation Park in Horsham instead. I was employed there during my gap year as I looked to determine what I wanted study and where. Being from the country, I never held much interest in Melbourne, a city with roughly 200 times the population of my hometown of Horsham.

‘I wasn’t expecting the doubt I felt throughout my gap year. Was I doing the right thing? Should I have gone straight to university? Is the course I have been offered the right one? I wasn’t bad at maths, but didn’t do physics, so how could I become an engineer or contemplate doing finance? By about August of my gap year I knew I wanted to study again, I just wasn’t sure of my course.

‘I visited other universities, but eventually I applied for on-campus living at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus, and moved to Geelong in February of 2012. I have grown to love my course. I’ve loved every moment at Deakin, from growing and maturing as a leader, to meeting some lifelong companions. I feel like no-one is ever 100% confident of their choices at the end of Year 12 – getting 18 year olds to choose their career when they are still learning about themselves is a big ask.’

Adam Woodcock, third year communications student and intern

‘I was a jazz and ballet dancer for five years. When I was 14 I was training during the week and all day Saturday. I phased it out because I didn’t dream of being a dancer. I focused on school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I was drawn to creative areas. I wanted to get a high ATAR and get into a Bachelor of Communications. This appealed to me because I could study journalism, media, public relations and advertising and work out what I wanted to do as I learned.

‘There seems to be a general assumption that everyone gets a Year 12 result of between 75 and 80, but in reality less than 20% of the state gets that. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked to in Year 12. I researched other ways into the degree, and eventually completed 18 months of a business and PR diploma. I worked hard to get a good grade point average and was one of eight people that got into the degree from the diploma.

‘I had two years of work to do in the degree after the credits from the diploma were applied. I did the normal semester and subjects in summer and spring, so I’ve completed three and a half years of study in three years. During my time studying and working as an intern at a creative agency I am beginning to think that I would like to be an art director, but I am keeping an open mind – there are so many options out there.’

Ready to explore your options after Year 12? Choose your future

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