Your Future: Here and Now

By the time you have finished reading this blog, you will know my secret. It’s not a bad secret, or one that is embarrassing. It’s a secret to success. It’s the secret to where I am today, and how I had so much fun getting here. Enjoy :)

It’s coming to that time of year when everything seems to be winding up. It’s nearly the end of semester (or term) and the ties start to get a bit looser, the sun starts to get a bit brighter and you know that the end is in sight. With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, who doesn’t love this time of year?

However it got me thinking, this time last year I was about to take the big leap into the unknown. I was about to finish year 12 and graduate from education as I knew it. I was about to enter a world of freedom, liberty…and working outside the school hours of 9:00am to 3:00pm, Monday to Friday.

Let’s face it, popular topics among friends included…Will I have a gap year? Will I go straight to uni? Which university will I go to? What do I even want to study? Will I move out of home?

Will I? What if? How come? Huh? Ohh…it’s too hard. What’s on this weekend? :)

However at this point in the year, contrary to my friends, I was hardly stressed at all. I had a little secret up my sleeve! No I wasn’t best friends with the OP fairy, I didn’t have enough money to purchase a degree off eBay, and I didn’t have a double identity known as Miley Cyrus.

Mine was a little secret I like to call…(drumroll)…The USQ Head Start Program.

Ohh, great secret Amanda, how is that meant to help me face life-after-schoolies? Well, I am going to tell you how.

I completed a USQ Head Start program between the summer holidays of year 11 and 12, studying Accounting for Decision making. I chose this semester because it DIDN’T EVEN IMPACT ON MY SCHOOL STUDIES!! (#winningatlife). What else is great is that I ended up getting a High Distinction in the subject!

However I am sure you all want to know why this program is a secret to success. My Head Start course was my secret weapon to my success in three ways:

Number One: Graduating from high-school with a future

At the end of year 12, when my friends were worrying about applying for university and hoping they would get in, I was sitting back and having a nice glass of satisfaction. By completing my Head Start course the year before, I had guaranteed myself entry into my degree (providing I met the pre-requisites), guaranteed myself a place at USQ, knew that I could move out of home and pay pretty cheap rent/expenses (and move back in for the night when I was sick of 2-minute noodles).

For me, this was great. I could graduate from high-school knowing that by putting in a bit of extra effort earlier, it set me up for life in a lot of areas. I even only put one preference on my QTAC application: Bachelor of Business at USQ (Shh don’t tell my guidance officer!).

#beingprepared

Number Two: Bragging rights!

I’m going to be honest with you; it does feel pretty good (even now) to say, “Yeah, you know, I started studying my university degree while I was still in high-school. They paid the fees for me too. What of it?”

Okay, so I may have been a bit more humble in reality. However I’m not just talking about bragging rights to your friends, the completion of a Head Start course looks great on a resume and scholarship application!! So:

  • Bragging rights to friends/ teachers/family (obviously for pure gratification)
  • An awesome point for a resume – shows motivation, dedication and commitment. I always put the completion of Head Start as a key point on my resume. It not only shows that you were able to actually handle the work load, but it shows you took the initiative to do something extra. This could lead to work experience and a potential career. In many cases I have seen it become the foot in the door to the student’s future.
  • Looks amazing on a scholarship application = possible free money. When you apply for a scholarship at USQ, putting the completion of a Head Start course looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g! It shows you are interested in studying at USQ, and it proves you are above and beyond others of your grade.

#lookinggoodbecauseyoureworthit

Number Three: It helped me chose my career…in a rather unexpected fashion.

I was very ambitious in high-school (cough cough). I wanted to earn lots of money. I wanted to wear branded business clothes, and perhaps stylish glasses that only actually contained clear lenses. I wanted to own a big house and holiday at lavish islands. I wanted to be able to work anywhere in the world. And I figured the best way to earn money was to work with money. So I wanted to be an accountant. Hence, I decided to study accounting as a Head Start course.

Ohh, was I in for a shock. Apparently (even though accounting and economics are the only business courses offered at school) there are sooooooo many more courses offered at uni. There was marketing, public relations, HR, tourism, events management, GRAPE AND WINE PRODUCTION, etc.! What’s even better is that with a USQ degree, I could be earning lots of money, wearing branded business outfits and work anywhere in the world with any degree!  So I could actually choose a real degree, for me, with real career prospects.

Through doing the Head Start program, it opened my eyes to what the world really has to offer. Amazing lecturers, amazing careers, amazing research, amazing stories and an amazing degree.  In Year 11, I knew I was part of something much bigger than myself, by school, my city and my country. It felt pretty cool :)

#openingdoorstotheworld

So as I reflect on where I was this time last year, and think of all of those battling through your high-school years, I do have some advice:

#beingprepared

#lookinggoodbecauseyoureworthit

#openingdoorstotheworld

These three points sum up what anybody in year 10, 11 and 12 should be doing right now and in the near future. In fact, anyone of any age that can learn from these things:

#beingprepared– it makes everything so much easier and gives you time to enjoy the good things in life.

#lookinggoodbecauseyourworthit – never underestimate yourself because it pays off to look good to the right people.

#openingdoorstotheworld  – possibilities are endless, so why not open the door if there is something great waiting for you on the other side.

For me, these three things are what the Head Start program is aimed at. And for hundreds of students each year, this is what the Head Start program delivers to them.

Don’t wait: your future is here and now.

I didn’t wait: and I can look back and say that I am living my dream.

Eclectic Electives: Why my degree resembles an ice cream…

When applying to enter the undergraduate science program at USQ almost three years  ago, my former self had little clue that she would be experiencing much more than psychological theory and statistical jargon… She would be putting her fingers in all the pies, stealing the knowledge of many other faculties, and forming a degree that featured an assortment of different flavours and academic sprinklings – it would be like the making of one very creative, epic, delicious ice cream.

But I suppose I should really take a step back and start my story from the beginning…

When I was in grade eleven I stumbled across an amazing thing – they called it ‘Head Start’. What teenager wouldn’t want to drop a subject at school and instead attend a weekly, three-hour Uni class in which you mainly listened to music and discussed the Beatles and Rolling Stones? Whilst pretending to be a witty, laid-back, astoundingly cool Uni student of course…  I heard about Head Start at school and from friends and was excited at the idea, but the huge selection of courses to choose from posed a problem for the 16-year-old Georgena who had no idea what she wanted to do after high school. However, despite being the exceptionally indecisive person I was (and still am), I eventually chose ‘An Introduction to Popular Music’. The class – worth over $500 – was fully paid for by USQ, and I was told it guaranteed me a place there after school if I wanted it, and could potentially contribute to my future degree. I loved every minute of the course and thus began the creation of custom-made USQ journey.

Over the next year I decided a degree in Psychology was the way to go, and I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Psych.

Decision made,” I thought to myself “bring on the predetermined classes and structured coursework!” This was not the case however. University threw me a curve ball; only sixteen of my twenty-four subjects were set – the remainder were (you guessed it) up to my less-than-experienced self to decide upon. Instead of a pre-made sundae I was given only the basics – a fifty cent cone which I then had to doll-up myself. You can imagine my dismay upon discovering the hundreds of subjects open to me yet again. And so, instead of a cleverly researched approach, I adopted a pretty happy-go-lucky/crazy woman one… “Introduction to Education? Why not, some of my friends are taking it…” “Journalism? Sure, throw that one in there” “English Literature? Didn’t mind it at school, sign me up!” I didn’t know what I was interested in at the time so I thought why not try a bit of everything; no need to choose between caramel topping and crushed nuts when you’re given the option of both.

I muddled along during first year, completing my set subjects as well as a good few not-so-set ones. I didn’t feel particularly attached to the semester one education course or to the journalism course I undertook in summer semester that year. But, third time’s the charm as I came across a winner in English Literature (thank goodness!) – My choice of subjects finally began looking a little less eclectic, a little less random (after over a third of my degree was already completed…). I decided to take on four literature courses; the four which are considered a minor within an arts degree (the last of which I am completing currently, in the final semester of my science degree) – and I haven’t regretted it since.

I consider literature a breath of fresh air when I get too bogged down in the midst of all that psychology work, and I’m thankful now that I was given so many electives to play around with, and that I experimented until I found the perfect combo. So here’s the final description of my rocky-to-start-with ice cream:

  1. A novice with no background in ice cream buys a flake before even considering the ice cream to be had (i.e. my music elective)
  2. Several years later (the flake maybe slightly melted and forgotten by this point), a much more enlightened being purchases the ‘base’; a very large cone and a generous serve of vanilla ice cream (i.e. enrolling in a science degree with the major of psychology)
  3. A bunch of crazy children arrive and drench the ice cream in mismatched toppings and sprinkles (i.e. the education, journalism, and first literature electives)
  4. Luckily, a seasoned taste-tester arrives and, appreciating the small amount of caramel sauce found, adds more and gets the balance near perfect (i.e. the following three literature courses)
  5. A final passer-by realises that the ice cream is being lost amidst all these new flavours and adds a final scoop, perfecting the recipe (i.e. the third-year psychology elective I chose in the summer semester of my second year)

I think the moral to this somewhat in-depth analogy is that, at the end of the day, your degree should be unique to you, and you shouldn’t be afraid of customising it where possible. Learning is a lot about choices and decision-making (as my former self quickly discovered) – and ice cream tastes a lot better when you make it yourself!!