It's around this time of year that northern hemisphere students are soon to be having a freak out about college acceptance or lack-of, isn't it.
Well this is a topic I'm pretty passionate about, and I knew so when a couple of years ago I was a Student Ambassador for my university at education expos. I'd tell students that there were multiple ways to get where they wanted to go in the future. If they didn't get the score they needed to get into the course they wanted immediately, it was going to be okay. There are other ways.
In Australia, there is SO much emphasis put on getting the right ATAR score (is that what it's still called?) to get into the university course of your dreams. So those kids that want to be vets, and doctors, and lawyers, there is so much competition to get into these courses that only the cream of the crop succeed. So when you're in high school, it feels like if you didn't spend your whole year 12 with your head in books in order to get the top of the top marks possible, you weren't going to be a vet, a doctor, or lawyer.
But what if you have a bad year? What if your parents get divorced, or a loved one dies, or you move to a new school, or you break a bone, or develop a mental illness, or break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or pick up an after school job or after school activity you're really passionate about? What if you have to babysit your siblings all the time, or frankly get burnt out on the whole stress and pressure of trying so hard?
What if you're just not that great at school, and at the end of the year, your grades and ATAR score reflect that and you don't get into the university course of your dreams? Does that mean the world shouldn't get to benefit from your passion to save lives or develop cures?
NO. IT DOESN'T.
There are so many different routes to get wherever you want to go, you guys. Going from high school to university to the job is merely one of them. In my experience, it's actually a lot easier to get into a course as a mature age student with some life experience than it is as a high schooler when all you have is an ATAR score. So don't stress so much about it, okay?
CASE IN POINT.
I have THREE friends who always wanted to be vets, but not one of them got in to veterinary courses straight out of high school. Two of them started science degrees and the other started a nursing degree instead.
After finishing their science degrees, both Josh and Fiona got into vet degrees, Josh got a job at a clinic and now he OWNS it. And he hired Fiona! Bec was a nurse for a while but has now gone back to uni to follow her dreams and is currently studying again to be a vet.
Me, I developed an illness in year 12. I pretty much went blind for several months and was on a lot of drugs and eye drops to counteract it. I couldn't read or see screens or even people's faces so I couldn't study. It was infuriating and super stressful.
I DID get into the course of my dreams, though (I didn't need as high a score as some people) but it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I got into a Bachelor of Creative Arts at LaTrobe University in Melbourne. Great course, I'm sure, but I yearned for something practical in which I would learn how to write scripts and what they looked like, learn how to write a novel, but my course was all theory, which I didn't realise at the time that a lot of university courses are.
So I dropped out after the first semester, worked a shitty job for the next semester and started a better course for me, a Diploma of Arts (Professional Writing & Publishing) at Box Hill TAFE that DID teach me how to write scripts and novels and set me on my path.
And what you want when you're in high school can change drastically as you grow up, learn more about the world you actually live in outside the high school bubble.
I never knew being a freelance writer or editor was a thing back in high school, but here I am doing it and really enjoy writing about a variety of different topics that interest me, and editing other people's novels and worlds. I didn't know I'd enjoy designing book covers and typesetting, but they're some of my favourite jobs that I receive.
Who knew I had those skills?
I always wanted to be a full-time author when I was younger, but when I did that, I realised I also needed something else. I don't enjoy writing novels full-time. The reality isn't as good as the dream had been. And that's totally okay.
I think I'm getting off track. I just want high schoolers to know there are other ways to reach your dreams even if you're not great at school. You can still get there, or develop new, bigger, even better dreams. I have new dreams all the time, other things I also want to do. And I'm going to.
So try and enjoy this big, full-on final year at school, okay? It's going to be hard, but it should also be fun.
It was incredibly timely that I found this video today, from super-successful author John Green about how he kind of sucked at high school.
And look at him now.
I, Sarah Billington, am an Australian writer of romantic comedies, thrillers, zombies, a TV extra, travel blogger for Expedia and animal blogger for Zookie. I also edit other peoples work sometimes, be they authors or businesses, and design their page layout and book covers.