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Hannah Gray


College of Arts, Society and Education

Publish Date

11 May 2020

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Discovering answers

Looking ahead to your post-school future may feel like looking at a bunch of question marks.

What do you want to study? What job do you want? How are you going to pursue your passion? Do you even have a passion? Take a breath. Not all of those questions have to be answered right away, and we have some advice for answering the questions that you’re ready to consider.

Start with your interests

Finding out what you want to do is best begun by finding out what you’re already interested in.

Maybe what really motivates you is the thought of financial independence and you’re interested in a job that can earn you a lot of money. Or maybe you never feel better than when you know that you’ve really helped someone.

Maybe you haven’t thought about how your passion for landing that backside 180 on your skateboard has developed a practical understanding of physics. Or how following your favourite YouTube channel for years has given you an insight into marketing for web content.

Consider all of your interests, even if they don’t seem directly related to a specific career. You may find that you already know what you really want to do.

Know your options

Maybe you know what you’re interested in, but you have no idea how to apply it to your future aspirations.

Knowing what options are out there in the real world is key to knowing which of those options you want to take.

University study is a pathway to a career, so you may find it helpful to begin by considering what careers you can see yourself doing. Websites such as myfuture and Job Outlook can guide you on your choices for future study and training. Answer questions about your skills and interests to find personal recommendations to explore. JCU also has resources for exploring your options as you plan your future.

Deferring, travelling, studying, working – knowing your options is a step in the right direction for finding out what you will do and who you will become.

Deciding what to study

Even if you feel like further study is for you, it can be difficult to feel confident that you’re choosing the right course.

Maybe you have lots of interests, but just don’t know which of them you want to pursue. Deciding what to study doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It is often a process of elimination based on your interests, goals, and what you can see yourself doing.

Browsing university websites and guides can give you an idea of what an area of study can include. Talking out the process can be helpful as well. You can speak to your school guidance officer or contact one of the JCU team members to get professional insight into study that might suit you.

You’ve considered your interests, you’ve explored your options, you’ve found a course or two that you think you’ll enjoy. What steps can you take now to be ready?

Study habits

This is the time to develop successful study habits.

Tertiary study is different from secondary schooling. It is primarily self-driven. Use this time to explore study methods that work for you and the ways that you learn most effectively. This will not only help you with your marks now but will also help you to stay on top of your study at university. Check out JCU’s ideas on ways to win at your study.

Application criteria & process

Familiarise yourself with your course’s application. If you’re aiming for a competitive course like Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Science, make sure you’re covering the key criteria of the application. Stay on top of the application process as well. Keep track of the dates involved and the deadlines for submission so that you’re ready for each step of the process.

Pathways to uni

Pathways can help you take the next step in your journey no matter how you finished high school or how long you wait to go to uni.

The Diploma of Higher Education is a one-year course designed to help people who may not meet the academic requirements for entry into a Bachelor degree. Completing the diploma allows you to enter many JCU Bachelor degree programs and may give you advanced standing or credit in some of your subjects.

The Tertiary Access Course (TAC) is a pathway course for mature-age students or school leavers who do not have an OP/ATAR score or recognised experience. TAC has fewer fees than the Diploma and is completed through core subjects that give you skills for tertiary-level study.

Pathways are a great way to access university, but they are indirect and increase the overall time and work needed for you to reach graduation. It’s still important that you do your best to finish high school well – remembering that there are different paths for everyone.

Planning for your future can be intimidating. There are many unknowns and you may feel like you’ll never really know what you want. You’re not alone. We are always changing, and our interests and passions can change as well. Your path will likely take many turns as you move forward. Doing what you can now to prepare for what is ahead of you will help you to be ready to take on whatever you choose to do. Take it one step at a time and soon you might find yourself doing things you haven’t even imagined.

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Begin your dream career through one of JCU's pathway courses