Turns out, only 26% of you guys are turning to your careers advisors for advice or asking them questions. This means that most of you aren’t going to the one person whose job is dedicated to helping you make post school decisions, which is kind of worrying.
There’s a couple of reasons for this: the majority of career advisors in Australia work part-time, and just don’t have the time and resources to help out everyone with the ‘transition from school into a proper career’ thing, which sucks for anyone that’s really struggling to figure out what they want to do (a.k.a. most of us).
Here some of the questions you really should be asking your careers advisor (but probably aren’t).
1. Do I really need an ATAR?
Surprise, surprise, the ATAR isn’t an important as everyone makes it out to be. While a solid ATAR will make your entry into uni pretty straightforward, there’s plenty of back doors and ways around it. You can do a short course to boost your score or some uni courses use portfolio entry or interviews instead. Once you know where you want to be, you’ll be able to find a way to get there without an ATAR and your career advisor can help you get there.
2. Is there a way I can boost my ATAR?
Technically you can’t change your ATAR, but you should check out what bonus points you may be eligible for to give it a boost. Some universities call them ‘adjustment factors’ but basically they’re extra points you can get for doing particular subjects in high school or extra curriculars. Depending on your circumstances, you could get ten or more bonus points and that could be the difference between getting into the course of your dreams or settling for your back-up plan.
3. Is a gap year an option?
Despite what you might hear, a gap year isn’t just about taking a break from everything (although if you do just want a break that’s totally okay too). A gap year can be a key part of your career/life development and if you’re travelling or spending time working, you’ll be picking up important life skills like budgeting.
A gap year can give you a chance to just figure things out without the pressure of exams and deadlines and most of the time you’ll be able to defer your uni offer for a year while you decide.
4. What are my strengths?
Most of the time, we know if we’re good at Maths or can write an ace English essay because we’ve been tested in these areas. But you should ask your careers advisor to help you go deeper than that, maybe you’ve got an amazing attention to detail or can negotiate like no one else. Finding out what your strengths are is going to help you use them to your advantage in getting a job and choosing your next steps, so even if you can’t chat to your careers advisor, ask other people what they think you’re really good at and go from there.
5. What other pathways are out there?
Like we said, an ATAR isn’t the only way to get started in a career; there’s plenty of pathways you probably haven’t even considered yet. There’s nothing wrong with taking an alternative pathway to get where you want to be, especially if you’re considering heading down the road of uni. Most universities have their own pathway colleges; you could do a bridging course to step straight into the first year of your uni course or do a one-year pathway course and jump ahead into the second year of uni (with no waiting).
6. What happens if I change my mind?
If you’re terrible at making decisions and are worried that you’ll decide on something and then change your mind, don’t freak out. If you ask your careers advisor this they should tell you that it’s totally okay to change your mind (in fact, they probably expect you to change your mind to at some point). The main thing is to not be put off from making any decision just because you’re worried you’ll regret it later down the track. There’s always other pathways, and your careers advisor should help you figure out a Plan B in case things fall through.
One of those big decisions you might be worried about is picking a uni. Every uni is different and it can be hard to work out which uni will be right for you, especially if you don’t have a careers advisor helping you out, which is why our mates at UC have put together a checklist for you. All you have to do is head here and chuck in your details, then sit back and see the best uni for you, easy peasy.