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Bushfires, floods and COVID-19 have made the already challenging final year of high school a tough one, to say the least for the Year 12 class of 2020.
Besides dealing with the strange new world of restrictions, added stress for families and learning in a new way, Year 12s also said goodbye to friends and teachers, celebrated their graduation in whatever way they could, and completed their HSC exams.
At the end of 2020, HSC results were released and graduates are now working out what to persue in 2021, whether that’s further studies, an apprenticeship or taking a gap year.
Bounty Parents spoke to one student currently studying at higher education provider Excelsia College, to discover what advice she would give to her 17-year-old self.
Natalie Jia Wen, a 2016 school leaver and student currently studying the Bachelor of Dramatic Art at Excelsia, shares what she wishes she knew when finishing high school.
From realising you will never feel prepared for choosing your career (and that’s okay!) to caring for yourself and your stress levels, Natalie reflects on her journey and shares her advice for this year’s school leavers. There really is light at the end of the HSC tunnel.
Natalie Jia Wen graduated high school four years ago and has some words of wisdom for 2020’s school leavers.
What was the biggest challenge in your final year of high school and what do you wish someone told you?
My biggest challenge was definitely deciding whether it would be a wise choice going into the dramatic arts. While passion is one thing, everyone always tells you how difficult it can be going into the industry. I wish someone told me how extremely fulfilling it would be, and there will always be a way!
How did you decide what to do after high school?
For me, I had to take the long way. I went for another degree first and worked in communications until one day, I was sitting in my office and thinking about how much I missed the performing arts! When you’re meant to be in the dramatic arts, you will get called back to it whenever or wherever! It was then I knew there would be no turning back and I started looking for drama schools to apply for.
What was something you wish you knew when you were 17?
I wish I knew that the future isn’t as scary as you think it is, and that I’m stronger than I think I am.
The pandemic has made what is already a challengining year for Year 12, even more difficult.
What was something everyone told you but you didn’t believe?
You’re a talented and hardworking individual, and that I’m definitely called to work in the arts. I didn’t believe them but the past few years have shown me that I can accomplish much more than I thought was possible back then.
What are your three top tips for teenagers considering further studies?
Firstly, don’t be afraid you will be tied down to whatever studies you choose. You always have the option to try something new!
Second, always be curious and ask questions! Your lecturers are there to help you, always.
Finally, you will ALWAYS feel unprepared, and that’s okay!
What are some good ways to plan for the future?
“If you can, preparing yourself to be financially ready is important. You never know what’s going to happen or what life is going to throw at you, whether it’s with work, study or life (this year is a great example). Having something to back you up is important.
Also think about the environment you’re going into and if it’s a good fit for you, whether that is study or work. It’s just as important as the work itself, and the people you work with matter so much!”
What is the best thing about further studies?
Getting to learn what you’ve always wanted to learn, and not have to study things you were never really interested in (math for me — whoops!). College and university are not like school at all. There’s a lot more independent learning involved, but you really feel so satisfied when you’re able to complete things your own way!
How have you achieved your goals?
I always look for opportunities to try my hand at any practical work I can, be it through internships, shadowing or just always being curious! I also strive to manage my stress levels to a healthy level so the little things don’t become big issues. Always ask yourself what you’re good at and what you can improve on, and never be afraid to ask for help when it comes to things to improve on. Learning is a lifelong journey.
For further information on Excelsia and their range of Creative and Performing Arts degrees, click here.