Career Choices

ALL SCHOOL STUDENTS in Year 10 and Year 12 are currently facing a major cross-road in their lives. It’s about this time of the school year where these awaiting school graduates have to make important decisions for their future.

For students in Year 10 it’s deciding whether to leave school for an apprenticeship or traineeship, or to stay on at school for another two years to pursue a Higher School Certificate. Questions commonly asked by students and parents are: What are the advantages or disadvantages in staying or leaving? What apprenticeships and traineeships are available? What further training is possible with a Year 10 School Certificate verses the HSC? This is more pertinent now since the formal school leaving age in NSW has been changed to 17. Could a “Trade School” education be a better option?

For students deciding to stay on to complete the NSW HSC, choosing the right subjects in Year 10 for the HSC years is critical. Many schools are now planning subject selection evenings for their students. This is a time where young people have to project their career goals a few years beyond now, and think what it is they would like to do as a career in the future, and hence, choose appropriate subjects for Years 11 and 12 that will help achieve those goals.

Unfortunately several 15 or 16 year olds don’t know what they want to do in the future, so career-based decisions are difficult to make at this time. Getting guidance from a trained Career Counsellor will make this process easier. A Career Counsellor can also help with vocational testing. The results of this sort of testing will aid the counsellor in providing good advice to students and their parents on the sorts of careers suited to one’s personality, interests and aspirations.

Year 12 students are at a cross-road too. They would be experiencing anxiety from a number of sources, eg exam pressures, assessment task deadlines, relationships and the personal demands to choose a worthwhile and meaningful career path for the very near future. The choices open to Year 12 graduates are many. Some include further study at university, TAFE or private colleges; apprenticeships/traineeships, cadetships or even taking a ‘gap year.’ A common question asked amongst all these choices is: Which is the right one for me? A Career Counsellor will guide you through this maze of options in very little time.

The University Admissions Centre and TAFE NSW will soon release their handbooks (usually July). The UAC Guide will inform you briefly on what undergraduate courses are available and what ATAR is likely to be needed to attain a place at university. But please be aware that there are several alternative methods to enter university without an ATAR. Applications for most courses close late September. There are hundreds of courses to choose from. Getting the right advice suited to your personal goals is always wise, and a chat with a trained Career Counsellor is the best place to start.

One can see that good career planning is a key for a successful transition from school to work or further study. Students should not feel that they are alone in having to sort out their careers. There is a lot of help out there and it’s a matter of knowing where to look and asking the right questions.

Dr John Taccori is a practicing career counsellor and a doctoral graduate of the University of Sydney. He can be contacted on 4754 2002 / 0400938574 or