ENID, what are my options besides going to uni? AHHHH. What a tough question. It’s all good, ENID likes tough questions, and this is something she is particularly passionate about.
Sometimes, uni appears as the only option out there for post-school life. So many people in Australia do study at uni after they finish school, but it’s important to know studying at uni isn’t the only option for what you can do when you finish school. There are LITERALLY THOUSANDS of courses, options and pathways you can take that do not involve uni – after all, uni is not for everyone! Australia has a culture where we have a huge amount of university graduates: but do you necessarily need to go to uni? The answer is no, you don’t necessarily need to go to uni, especially if you’re unsure what you want to do in your life.
However, it’s important to remember that uni is ‘suggested’ for people who want a more ‘corporate’ career. These days, a lot of corporate recruitment in areas like business, law, science, some aspects of media, engineering, medicine and technology require people to have an undergraduate degree. BUT, if you really want to work somewhere, and you don’t want to or can’t attend uni, then I’m certain other study, skills and suitable experience would also probably get you there (the exception being Medicine. If you want to be a Doctor, you will need a university degree).
It’s also important to remember many people who work in a ‘corporate’ career and are wildly successful didn’t go to uni, e.g. Steve Jobs & Richard Branson.
OK ENID, WHAT CAN I DO?
1. Work. You can get straight into the workforce, through an internship, an apprenticeship, or securing full or part time work.
- Internships. In so many industries, you can secure internships (paid or unpaid) out of high school to help you meet people in an industry, which can lead to full time or more secure work. Many people in creative industries (e.g. Fashion, Photography, Design) combine completing internships with some other form of work (usually casual or part time) or study, to build their connections, experience, portfolio and knowledge of a certain industry. In industries like this, practical experience, networking and on the job learning is often much more useful than anything you’ll ever learn in a classroom. However, it can also be helpful to combine work/ interning with some type of relevant study.
- Apprenticeships. Many industries have apprenticeships, which are often the best way to get your foot in the door, through practical experience. An apprenticeship is when an employer pays you to work (usually for about 2 years), where you learn a particular skill on the job. Skills based industries like hairdressing and beauty therapy or trades often have more structured apprenticeship programs. These are often advertised on websites like seek.com.au
- Full / part time work. In some industries, going to work full time straight out of high school is often the best way to get experience (this is great in creative industries). Alternatively, if you’re unsure what you want to do and you don’t want to study, working full time is a great option to gain some more experience and spend some time figuring out what you want to do. Top tip: scoring a full time job in some sort of office environment is often GREAT experience as you will learn a lot about how businesses and offices work, you’ll be paid a salary, and you’ll get to make connections. Or, working a couple of casual jobs could make you more money if you’re wanting to save money, as you can work more hours at a higher casually hourly rate (i.e. 3 casual jobs).
2. Diploma / Certificate: You can complete a certificate or a diploma in pretty much anything; these are often more specialised than anything at uni.
- Private Colleges. There are LOADS of private colleges out there, offering everything you could ever think of – from courses you can study at uni, to specific courses. Private colleges are often awesome for learning in a more intense, specialised manner – you’ll most likely have more contact hours, but you’ll usually finish your course quicker than a standard 3 year university degree. For many industries such as: hospitality, creative (fashion, hair, makeup, photography, design…), performing arts, and some media specialisations, private colleges are awesome. Private colleges in Sydney include places like Macleay College, Billy Blue, William Blue, ACMUSE, Raffles, Whitehouse School of Design… the list is endless. Many private colleges offer more intense courses (6 months – 2 years), so it’s quicker to get your studying done, they are often more ‘hands-on’ and less theory based, and they are also often much more expensive. However, depending on the course and the college, you may be eligible for a HELP or fee-help loan from the government.
- Tafe. Tafe is a great way to get skills and experience in a shorter period of time, offers so many different courses, is often less expensive depending on the course, and is in heaps of locations. Tafe is more flexible than university, offers heaps of online study options, and allows you to complete study within shorter time frames (e.g. a Certificate II is usually around 6 months). There’s also the ability to easily add to this later on down the track (i.e. complete a Cert IV in your specialty after you completed a Certificate II a few years earlier – you can keep adding on). Tafe is also usually offered at night as well, so you can work during the day. Tafe is an awesome option for anyone – I went to Tafe for 6 months to complete a Cert II in Retail Makeup & Skincare and I absolutely LOVED it.
- Open Universities / Online Courses. There are heaps of options for open universities (i.e. offered ‘anywhere’, or able to be completed ‘virtually’). These range for sites like General Assembly to Open University Australia, to even things like Khan Academy. It’s good to do your research for where exactly you’re going, and often to make sure they are an accredited education provider.*
3. Start your own business: Got a burning passion or desire with an entrepreneurial flair? Why not start your own business! Read our article on what is a startup to find out more, or read the Day in the Life of a Dance Studio owner to see how Miss Madi started her own business. This may be tricky, but hey, it’s an option!
WOAH. And we’re done here! Know any more options, or burning questions? ASK ENID!
*You should make sure when you are choosing to study somewhere that it is a Registered Training Organisation in Australia – i.e. it meets the regulations & standards of the Australian government and is ‘legit’ – don’t waste your time and money studying somewhere that isn’t a Registered Training Organisation! Info here.