Tips & Info
Tips & Info

What Happens After School?

After school…

Around this time of the year, many young people will be making decisions about taking the next big step in their lives – moving on from high school into the work force or on to university or TAFE. But are you ready to go?

There are many ways to cross the bridge from the teen years into adulthood, and many different pathways to working out and doing what you want with your life. Sometimes it can be confusing to know what to do after high school. It can feel like a big decision. Some people decide to try lots of different things, some people may decide to work first and go to university or TAFE later in their life.

What can I do after school?

Options of things to do after you finish school include:

  • Going to university
  • TAFE colleges – provide many courses at Associate Diploma or Diploma level that may be upgraded at a later time. They also provide the opportunity to learn practical skills (such as apprenticeships in various trades) while earning some money
  • Volunteer work – gives you the opportunity to try out different skills, meet new people, and learn about the world of work
  • Join the Defence Forces – basic training provides you with an introduction to self-discipline, team work and independence and you earn money at the same time
  • Travel – living in another culture can be a good way of working out who you are. If money is an issue, think about exchange programs, overseas aid programs or maybe join a cruise line
  •  Get a job – having a job allows you to become more independent and learn life skills such as managing money, dealing with people, running a household, balancing work and play, making friends and developing relationships

What will life be like after school?

Leaving high school and starting on a new path can often seem like entering a foreign country. At first you may not know quite what to expect, what it will be like, or how you will fit in. There are likely to be many new things to learn that will be quite different from what you are used to.

When people enter ‘foreign countries’, they can have mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation – excitement about new experiences and ideas which lie ahead and uncertainty about how to meet future challenges. Some people can be tourists and some travellers. Tourists are content to be shown things without having much control over what they do. They often have a comfortable journey. Travellers want much more control over their journey. They tend to seek and find things that are interesting and get involved with the surroundings. Travelling can at times create uncertainty about which way to turn next. However, while traveling can be sometimes uncomfortable, it can also be greatly rewarding as many opportunities arise to learn new skills and ideas and make new connections and meaningful relationships.

How will you be with your transition? Will you be a ‘tourist’ or a ‘traveller’? If you are coming from school, one of the first things you may notice with this transition is that you are in a much freer, less structured environment and you have to make a lot more decisions about what, when and how you do things. Suddenly YOU are responsible for how you use your time. You may find you now have to figure out how to manage your own time and money to meet all your commitments – feeding yourself, attending lectures, private study, recreation, family time, part-time work, household duties etc.

It can be an exciting time.Lisa, Kids Helpline Counsellor
How can I prepare?

Have you thought about what you want to do? Think about what you can do to gain some life experience, to explore options for your future life, to learn how to manage your time and money, and decide on a future direction for yourself. When it comes to deciding on a career pathway, consider some of the activities you enjoy doing and what you find interesting and feel passionate about. REMEMBER the degree or path that you start on, may not necessarily be the same one that you finish – it’s not uncommon to later decide that a course or field wasn’t what you expected. Work and university can introduce you to new fields and ideas, so once your foot is in the door, you have a platform to explore further ideas and options. Each choice or option you pursue, leads you one step closer to the choice or option that’s right for you.

Preparing for university?

There are some things you can do to help you to prepare for this journey:

  • Attend university or TAFE ‘Open days’ prior to the start of the academic year
  • If possible, take a trip to the campus with some friends or your parents to get a feel for the surroundings and familiarise yourself with where things are
  • Participate in an Orientation Program. This is designed to help you learn about your new environment and what is expected of you. Activities also provide the opportunity to make new friends and have some fun
  • Find out where the university support services are e.g. academic support, health services, counselling and career services and financial aid
  • Work out a budget, and talk to your parents, older siblings, a financial counsellor or someone else you trust about how you can manage your financial commitments
  • Visit Centrelink or their website to find out if you are eligible for any study assistance allowances
  •  If any of your friends are making similar transitions to you, talk with them about how you will support each other

Preparing to get a job?

If you have decided that you want to get a job now that you have left high school, there are a number of things you can do, including:

  • Think about what interests you and what skills you have or would like to develop
  • Use the internet to research organisations that interest you
  • Be prepared to start from the bottom up. Remember that your first job may only be a stepping stone to something bigger and better
  • Make a list of your skills and abilities so that you can ‘sell yourself’ to an employer
  • Prepare a resume of your education, achievements and skills. If you need help, look up examples on the internet or talk to your parents or friends
  • Prepare yourself for an interview. Prepare answers to some possible questions, for example: Why do you want this job? Why should I hire YOU? How can you contribute to this company? Practice interviewing with your friends or parents. Be on time for the interview and dress neatly.
We are here to help youAlan, Kids Helpline Counsellor


There are no references in this article.

This topic was reviewed: January 2015

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