START WITH WHAT COMES EASILY

If only everything we ever undertook was easy. Of course, if that were the case, we’d never feel challenged to learn anything new BUT everyone finds something easy.   Some have been given a gift of athleticism and sport comes easily to them. Others find public speaking easy.  It could be a tangible skill like being practical with your hands or something intangible like finding it easy to listen to people. Choosing to include something easy in your course  for your first year at University is going to make the transition much smoother.SKILLS

So once you’ve found what comes easily to you, it’s time to do an audit of your skills.  Some of our skills are innate but even things that come naturally to us need nurturing. We had to be taught how to talk, walk, hold a spoon, read and write. There is probably not a day goes by when you’re not learning something new. You have developed a skills base but perhaps are not aware of them.

Of course, 99.9% of us can read and write but what skills do you have that set you apart, that make us unique, that tap into the essence of who we are.

BUILD UPON THE FOUNDATIONS

What skills do you possess, (that you find reasonably easy) that could form the foundations of your study and career pathway?

Remember that what you study is not necessarily what you’ll become. This is the start point not the end of the road.

The original concept of a university education was to provide a base from which to launch into a specialised area. Two Universities in Australia, Monash and UWA now require students to undertake an undergraduate degree before going on to study medicine, law or veterinary science. Why? Because commitment requires maturity and maturity comes with age.

A CASE STUDY

I read this story some years ago and it’s stuck with me. A young woman who left school at 15 to work in a shop, with few aspirations other than to earn some money. She did this for a while until finding herself bored she began a secretarial course. Once she completed this, she took a job as a receptionist in a doctor’s surgery. Soon after she thought she might study nursing and realised that she would have to get her senior qualification so enrolled at TAFE and after graduating enrolled in a nursing degree part time completing it in record time. By this time, she was 22 years old. For many that would have been enough study for a while but working in a hospital gave her the drive to push herself that little bit further. She decided to become a doctor, which she accomplished in six years. At the age of 28 she had accomplished a goal that at the outset of the journey she had no idea she had.

There is an important message in this true story. Sometimes our careers or life’s purpose evolves rather than is decided upon. Jessica just kept listening to her heart and with the support of a few mentors found herself where she needed and wanted to be. Jessica developed her skills along the way but perhaps her innate quality was compassion and kindness – important qualities to have in the health industry wouldn’t you say?

Think about what comes easily to you, what characteristics do you have which make you individual and what skills do you already have that you could build on?

RESEARCH

One of the biggest mistakes that students make when choosing a career path or degree to undertake at University level, is that they do not thoroughly research the subject base for that degree.  I wanted to be a vet – but besides the fact that blood made me queasy, I just was not that good at Maths and Science, and just as importantly, they did not interest me (probably why I didn’t do well in them).

It is important to make sure you know what subjects will be compulsory from the outset then at least you know what your challenges will be. Sometimes, even if you have studied a subject at school, the content and style of teaching is quite different at a University level, so you would do well to try to get to an Open Day (even if it’s a virtual one.)

If that isn’t possible, contact someone in the faculty at the University where you would like to study your degree and also find someone who is the year ahead of you – a friend, a relative, a sibling of a class mate who has already done the course. Get educated! The information given out in the University Admissions handbooks  is meant to be a guide. The more research you do, the less likely you are to get a nasty surprise after enrollment day.

KNOW YOUR STARTING LEVEL

 So you like babies. You could be a paediatrician, Karitane nurse, midwife, nanny, early childcare teacher. The question is “Which of these options are open to you?” Be realistic about your ability level. Jessica is a good example of someone who added on as she went and sometimes this is what you will have to do. High achieving students are the only fortunate ones for whom the smorgasbord of courses is wide open.

So where do you sit? What is your level?

HEART

What does your heart tell you? Put your hand over your heart and ask yourself, “What is it I want?”

Block out what is sensible, what your parents want you to do, what your teachers say you’re capable of.

Make sure you are the one running the show. It’s easy to allow an attentive parent to do all the groundwork for you but try to be proactive. Yes! Year 12 is demanding, and you’ve got loads of study to do but very soon you’re going to be out there on your own so you may as well make a start now.

PRESSURE! PRESSURE! PRESSURE!

 It is everywhere isn’t it, from everyone and you just wish it would go away. How many times have you been asked, “So, what do you want to do?” Are you sick of it yet? Sometimes I think it is just easier to say Law or Engineering. At least they stop badgering you. Of course, you do not  have to actually mean it. That is one way to deal with pressure in your life. Others include things you’ve no doubt heard before – exercise regularly, maintain a social life, eat well, and get plenty of sleep. All easier said than done. The worst pressure is the sort you put on yourself. Do your best and that will have to be good enough – for you and everyone who is out there barracking for you. Don’t try too hard to look into the future. Be guided by your feelings and stay connected to your values.

PARENTS

Parents want the best for you. That doesn’t mean they always know what is best for you. They just think they do. It’s almost impossible for them to back off and allow you to make your own decisions. Try to cut them some slack. They do not mean to be interfering, controlling, invasive human beings. They cannot help it. A parent would not be a parent if they didn’t tell you that you should not be playing the Playstation, that you can’t possibly work in a room that untidy and that FB, Tiktok and Insta are distractions.

So how do 117/18 year olds deal with over involved parents? Love them and be grateful. One day you’ll have to go it alone.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?

The biggest mistake I made was not speaking up. I listened to others and ended up doing something I was most certainly capable of but not passionate about.  I’m not blaming anyone. I don’t like confrontation and arguments so I just ‘kept the peace.” Never keep the peace! It will just mean you will never be at peace.

QUESTIONS ANSWERED

What if I don’t get my first preference?

Not a complete disaster. Hopefully, you selected your preferences wisely and your second and third preferences will lead you to your first preference one day.

What if I don’t get any of my preferences?

Don’t panic. There are many pathways to success. Change your preferences to a different University and hope that you get an offer in the second round.

There’s TAFE, private courses, work for a year and try again.

Just remember Jessica’s story.