By Lauren Picone
It was the year 2005, Johnnie was PM, shit was getting real between Ryan and Marissa on the OC, tank tops and denim skirts were in, and MSN messenger and Myspace were considered the height of social media. I had just finished the HSC and was bracing myself for my results.
As a Year 12 student nothing set me more on edge than parent or teacher talk of the dreaded UAI. To my surprise my UAI was higher than expected. This however, did not alleviate my anxiety as I still had no idea what I wanted to with my life (a feeling that has recurred several times during my adult life!). Friends and family were only too happy to offer unwanted, albeit well-intentioned advice about which degree I should choose. Instead of providing clarity the plethora of perspectives only added to my anxiety, confusion and indecision.
I eventually decided to enrol in a Social Inquiry degree as I had always been interested in social justice. During one my first lectures the professor stated unequivocally that “if you expect to be paid well then you have enrolled in the wrong course”. I panicked and quickly transferred to Public Relations, the distant, evil cousin of social studies. Although I enjoyed my PR subjects and received relatively good results (a credit average), I soon realised during my industry placements, particularly at boutique Public Relations agencies, that the (false) glitz and glamour was not me at all. I graduated in 2009 with mixed feelings – I had this reputable degree under my belt but essentially didn’t want to use it!
From 2010 onwards I worked in administration, events and promotions roles in private business, state government and local government. There were aspects that I loved and hated, yet I knew I was suppressing my desire to pursue a career in teaching. My high school teachers and university lecturers had had a huge impact on my life and I had always wanted to emulate them. I made the difficult decision to return to university full-time at CSU as a twenty something mature aged student – and have enjoyed every minute of it.
In the end it doesn’t matter what UAI or ATAR you receive – it may sound cliché but you are not defined by your high school results.