Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
ABC News
ABC News

New Victoria University program gives high school leavers 'space' to figure out future

When Chloe Ford finished year 12 last year, she didn't think university was right for her.

But she couldn't shake the pressure to continue studying.

"I felt the only way I could be successful was to enter an academic path," she told Virginia Trioli on ABC Radio Melbourne.

Ms Ford passed the time after graduation by volunteering and travelling overseas.

But it wasn't until she stepped back that things became clearer.

"I now know that I want to go down an artistic path and try to work that into social justice," she said.

"I don't think I would have reached that conclusion if I jumped straight into university."

University program helping school leavers

Ms Ford was one of 20 young people aged 17 to 21 involved in a new Victoria University program called Summer Gap.

The program was funded by a pool of state government money allocated to the university to research how to help different industries bounce back from COVID-19.

The university said Summer Gap was unique, as researchers collaborated directly with participants to understand what support they needed when leaving high school.

Project manager and former teacher Amy Howard said they discovered young people wanted space.

"They wanted space to talk about themselves and their ideas and build the advocacy to be able to say, 'This is what I want'," Ms Howard said.

She said there were limited opportunities for students who needed support between high school and adulthood.

"Transition points within the education journey are well-known high-risk periods for student disengagement," she said.

"Attrition rates, low graduate outcomes, an increasing number of students choosing to undertake an unscored VCE — as well as the added upheaval of a global pandemic — flagged that there needed to be more done to support young people."

Through five weeks of workshops and discussions, Ms Howard said they worked to lift the immense pressure to have everything figured out, which helped participants feel more confident about their future.

"There's a sense you need to make a decision and you need to get a certain ATAR to achieve," Ms Howard said.

"It's not about needing to make a decision by the end of year 12 — you have time to explore who you are, to explore your interests, to change your mind, or go do something else.

"And even if you decide to put off higher education or vocational education until you're in your mid-20s, that's OK.

"We focus on drilling down into the why — why do they want a certain pathway, what's their decision-making behind that, and how do they justify that to themselves."

Develop confidence to talk to family about future

Chloe Hansen, another participant in the program, said it was interesting to navigate the pushback from parents.

"We've had a lot of pushback with this program from parents who are confused about what this program is about and why it's needed," she said.

"[And participants] didn't know how to tell their parents what they wanted to do with their future because they were scared of upsetting them.

"This program brings confidence – it allows you to figure out how you're going to take that next step."

Ms Howard said the university was hoping to run the program, developed in collaboration with AVID Australia and the Hellenic Museum, with interested secondary schools across Australia next year.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.