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Students celebrate the end of VCE

What to do now that you’ve finished high school

Congratulations, you made it through Year 12! Now you can sit back and enjoy the long stretch of study-free hours ahead of you. But as you recline in your banana lounge and ponder your achievements, your thoughts might turn to what’s next. Whether you head straight into further study, earn some cash by working, or take a gap year overseas, consider these options and embrace the freedom of choice.

The future is in your hands

If you’re overwhelmed by the advice coming your way, remember what you do next year is your call. Whatever your decision, it’s good to start planning to work towards your goals. It’s also important to remember that if you don’t achieve the ATAR score you were aiming for, there are alternative pathways to getting into university, such as starting a related course with a lower entry ATAR, and transferring to your ideal course down the track.

Earning dollars makes sense

No matter what 2017 holds, you’ll want to start making some money. If you haven’t already started earning cash while at school, develop a resume detailing your skills and personal achievements. Many cafes, restaurants and retailers will give enthusiastic people a go. Or you may want to try a less-traditional income stream. Even if the work has nothing to do with your chosen field, you’ll likely develop handy skills in customer service and time management.

Love where you live

Gone are the days of ensuring you’re at school when the bell rings or having to tell your parents where you’re going. You’re an adult now and that means you can live your way. Perhaps it makes financial sense to stay at home with your family, while you start earning money or begin further studies. But you might want to move in order to live closer to university or to live with friends. If you’re heading to uni, start exploring the range of on- and off-campus living options.

Be open to new experiences

Whether you are going to university or planning to travel the world, the prospect of being in new environments might feel daunting. Jess Holsman, Deakin University psychology graduate and founder of YouTube advice channel Study with Jess, says it’s worth viewing that nervous feeling with a positive outlook. ‘I remember going to orientation day – I could feel the butterflies. Once I got to meet like-minded people, I realised how easily I could fit in. Everybody is finding their feet,’ Jess says.

Overall she says the key to adapting to university life is to be proactive, whether that involves working to make new friends or seeking help if you don’t understand the requirements of an assignment. ‘I found that when I accessed support and opened myself up to making friends, my experience was so much better for it,’ Jess explains.


'I remember going to orientation day – I could feel the butterflies. Once I got to meet like-minded people, I realised how easily I could fit in. Everybody is finding their feet'

Jess Holsman,
Deakin University psychology graduate

Text books are the new beach read

In addition to being open to the experiences that come with starting university, Jess suggests that you can alleviate some of the anxiety by getting ahead with some early reading. With any luck, you’ll be really interested in the subject matter. This is the beginning of your life as an independent learner after all. ‘I had to be self-motivated. The teachers don’t check to see if you’ve done your reading. It’s up to you,’ Jess says. But, she adds that it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. If your initial marks don’t meet your expectations then ‘be determined to improve’ she says.

Explore more articles about what to do after high school, such as what life is like after Year 12 or tips on finishing VCE from people who’ve been there.

Looking for alternative ways to get into university? Consider the range of pathways available to you.


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