It's very easy to become obsessed on obtaining 'the piece of paper' at the end of the course (there was a 70s-80s US Sitcom mini-series on this, titled 'The Paper Chase' en.wikipedia.org). When we're checking out the options, it is incredibly easy to become disillusioned and disappointed with the limited outcomes offered. I found it was important to remember that the courses we pursue are simply means to an end.
While goals can be very useful when used as a measure of progress, another issue is that of longer term perspectives? It's these long term goals that allow us to conceive of ways to reach a point, and recognising not everything goes according to plan, rather how best to adjust accordingly.
In other words, when high school is over, what were my options?
An information night proved the key
My story is of a rather windy path over the past six or so years, and I'm still in the wrings of my tertiary education. The end is in sight and plentiful forays into professional fields on the side.
When I was a child my parents moved internationally for work and my childhood education came in the form of being home educated. For the most part I enjoyed the opportunity, it allowed a much greater focus on those subjects I found interesting.
However when I was roughly equivalent to year 10 I needed to decide how I would reach the vocation I had settled on, which happened to be a 'composer of music'.
This led me to attend university entry information seminars. I discovered that instead of sitting the school certificate and then the higher school certificate (to gain a University Acceptance Index, U.A.I, score); I could instead study for an undergraduate diploma in a related field and apply directly to a university or other tertiary institution that I intended to study at.
This seemed like a much more agreeable approach to me and soon after I began night courses, studying for a certificate III through a local training organisation.
The process began
During this time I was able to pursue many other activities such as volunteering, sport and work. The next year I used my certificate to gain entry to an accelerated diploma and by the end of the year handed in my application to my local university.
My entry was accepted and so I began studying a double degree program, I was 19 years old at the time and it was as if I'd simply taken a gap year after my higher school studies.
After one semester into my course I discovered that the university intake I was a part of was to be the last year to be admitted to my program of study and furthermore the lecturers had all been offered voluntary redundancy. Needless to say I spent a fare amount of time in my second semester deciding what the best course of action would be.
Eventually I chose to attempt to transfer to another university and once the dust had settled, I found myself at the institute where I am today with a program I enjoy with additional opportunities. One of which just happens to have been a tour of Europe, singing in some of the world best know cathedrals but that is a tale for another time.
While I still haven't yet finished, my journey has brought me in contact with many ideas and a wide diversity of people, stretched me to find confidence in my skills and abilities. I have been continually progressing towards my goal and I am incredibly thankful for how it has all turned out.
My experience says, don't lose sight of your goal! Keep going, and keep focused. Be confident!
Sam Gillespie is an Undergraduate Composition student and a computer programmer based in Sydney
Sam Gillespie's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sam-gillespie.html