It’s a big day for VCE students in Victoria, Australia today. The day that their overall Year 12 score is known and in effect, whether their hopes of getting into that university course (or whatever path they are hoping to follow) will be a reality.
I graduated in 2002 and had a pretty decent score considering the subjects I studied (they weren’t physics, let’s just say that!) and how well people in my class did that year. I was really proud that I finished on a high and performed really well in subjects that I enjoyed: History, Media Studies and English. But I knew it wasn’t going to be easy from here no matter how well I did.
And I was right.
The year after high school, I wasn’t studying at university. The next year either.
I did a diploma course that first year in Broadcasting: Radio and Tv and learnt real life skills in working in this industry which I still remember today. The next year I worked in retail, which I had been doing for 3 years already, in a part time job while in high school. It was beginning to feel like a lost cause, that I would never get into the course I wanted: Bachelor of Arts. I didn’t really have a choice if it didn’t work out. So I kept applying every year.
People can do what they like after high school. They don’t need a university degree. They can go on to a diploma course and apprenticeships, even while in high school; it all depends on what your goal is and what you need to do to get there. Unfortunately for me, university was my only choice to become a teacher.
And it was third times the charm for me, at 20 years old; because finally I did! I was offered a place at Deakin University in a Bachelor of Arts Degree and excitedly felt my life progressing into a future I had hoped to be in for so many years.
After 3 years, I finally graduated with the ‘Class of 2007’ as a History and Film Studies graduate (with Distinction-which meant my marks for each unit overall were at the higher end of the marking spectrum). It was also nice considering those were two subjects I had loved the most in high school.
It felt so good to have made it to this day, because for a long time I wasn’t sure if this was ever going to be a reality for me. When friends were all dropping out a year after they were accepted, here I was praying for an Admissions Dean to take a chance on me, and had no power in that decision other than a letter explaining why I wanted to be admitted into the course.
I chose to be brutally honest in that letter. I explained that I wanted to study History and Film following on from my completed diploma in 2003. I expressed how frustrating it had been watching people leave after getting accepted. I highlighted where I would go post-course so they could see what my ultimate goals were in needing this degree under my belt.
I had nothing to lose, so I was frank and heartfelt and to the point. It worked and I am so glad I wrote that letter in that way. I would do it again tomorrow if I had to.
Afterwards, I applied for a Post-Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary), which was a 1 year course at Monash University. I hoped to do this the following year after graduating.
In Australia, there are multiple rounds. When the first round came along, I was shocked to see that I didn’t get offered a place. I had really good scores and that alone should have placed me above other graduates who had applied and did not. I was yet again at a stalemate of limbo. Rarely does one get a second round offer.
I had always wanted to travel to the US and work at a Summer Camp, so I took not getting in as a sign to apply for this instead and I would apply for the diploma again next year now that I would have a magnificent adventure to look forward to.
I see this moment as fate. I even told my students about this moment a few years ago when teaching them about Romeo and Juliet. As I had already decided to work at Summer Camp, getting a second round offer to my teaching course stumped me! I was completely shocked! But, I deferred the course and went to America, which would in turn spurn me into having a love of travel which is a large part of who I am today.
I see this as fate because I was always going to be offered a place in this course. I just didn’t get the offer in the first round and made other plans instead. It was like it was meant to happen this way to push me into my love of travel, which at this point did not yet exist.
After completing my teaching diploma in 2009, I began working at my old high school (and working with all my old teachers) which I would continue on doing for the next 5 years. It was the best experience of my life, because I was able to thank people who helped shape me, and inspired me to be a teacher because of who they were. I actually became friends with quite a few of them, and that means so much to me after all this time.
I also connected with my students, and all the kids at the school since I was largely an emergency teacher. To me, these kids were me. To them, I used to be in that uniform, sitting at that desk. And here I was working as a teacher, traveling the world every chance I could…and I was happy. I traveled to Canada, Europe and the UK. I have stepped foot in 37/50 states of the US (with more to knock off in 2015). I have been living a traveler’s paradise for a long time.
Fast forward to 2013, I decided to leave the school and Australia for greener pastures in London. I needed to get away for awhile. I needed to travel on a more permanent basis. I would miss everyone, I still do, but I am fully content with my life abroad. I gave up teaching. I realised I had a yearning to do something else with my life while I was in this amazing city of London; with so much opportunity at my feet! So, I started working at Disney, in the Marketing team for the Disney Channels UK & Ireland and it has been a rewarding experience which has opened my eyes to so much more.
If I knew back in 2002, that in 12 years, I would be in London, working in this career, with a whole new group of life long friends; I would never have thought it possible.
I have truly achieved so much in this time, that my life as a high school graduate is very foreign to me. And that’s how it should be. You should grow, you should develop, and if you are lucky living a life that makes you happy.
I don’t know what the future holds, or what job I will have in 5 years, but I know that I am on the right path and that everything that has happened in my life; all the setbacks, the living in limbo, the stress of the unknown…it was all leading me right here.
I was able to live my dream of being a teacher, and I look forward to going back into the classroom for awhile when I get home in April; after 3 months of traveling early next year. But the simple truth is, I am well traveled, which I never planned on being, and this is what threw a spanner in the works for me after years of being in this profession.
The fact is, if I am doing what I love, then life is pretty good. I may be single. I may not have a permanent address. But my life worked out post high school. I am making big plans for my future and even though I have no idea where it will all lead, I know it will all work out just like all the unknowns worked out all those years ago.
So, if you are one of those graduating high school right now, don’t stress if you don’t get what you envision right away. Eventually it will happen, and maybe things will surprise you and steer you somewhere else entirely.
Life doesn’t end at high school. There is so much more than results.
The point to remember however is to never gave up. Keep on pushing on to achieve greatness. As long as you are happy, (or working towards it); then you have found what you were looking for and that is all that matters.
High School Graduation is just the beginning of your adult life. It isn’t meant to be easy. And if you find yourself having to wait for things to happen just remember that it all worked out for me in the end.
Sometimes the harder road is the better road anyway.
I did it.
And I made it out alive.
And you can too.
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