Do you remember when you were back in school, and suddenly you had to make all these important decisions about the rest of your life? If your school was anything like mine, there was a career counsellor who sat down and talked about options with you, and discussed what subjects you needed, what marks, or even told you just to go do a VET program instead.
I don’t remember too much of my meeting with the career guy, and I actually don’t even remember what I wanted to be. I know the idea of pediatric medicine, was thrown around until I realised I would need to study physics, and I hated that. (Besides I think I’ve learnt enough from years of obsessive Grey’s Anatomy viewing.) Likewise, I gave up on the idea of nursing because I didn’t like chemistry. You might be able to tell that science was not my strong point.
English, on the other hand, was. But after enduring a year of analytical study in year 11, in which only ONE story was required for submission (but boy did I make that one story count), I decided that in year 12, I would not be doing the ‘high’ level English. All the teachers tried to talk me out of it, and with good reason. In hindsight, I would have talked me out of it. But I was nothing if not stubborn, and so I refused. English Studies was necessary for a higher Tertiary rank, and good university acceptance; pretty much everyone did it. You were crazy not to if you had any academic hopes for your future. English PAS on the other hand, was the English class that everyone had to do in order to finish school. I think there were six of us in that class, and I was the only one that chose to be there.
I had a great time that year; while all my friends were analysing poetry and what not, I was writing whatever my little heart wanted to, more or less. Stories, and poems and angst-filled love songs (I was 17 after all), and it was all for credit. It was wonderful.
Then the end of the year came. Rather than endure an exam, English PAS students submitted a portfolio for moderation, and the overall mark of that compilation of work was your overall score for English. I distinctly remembering bumping into Mrs Wright, (my English teacher) at recess on moderation day, and her telling me it was going well. My marks were being moderated up, which was positive, and she mentioned that it looked like I might get a few 20 out of 20s.
As it turned out, there were enough 20s that the whole portfolio was awarded full marks, and even though I did the ‘low English’ I got a good boost on my final high school certificate. I, of course, thought it was great. Mrs Wright was over the moon (I don’t think she had ever had a high achieving student in that class before), and I was invited to some event at parliament house for achieving perfect marks in a subject.
That was less exciting than it should have been.
Looking through the list of awards, from memory I was the only person in the Territory to get a 20 for that subject, that year. And it’s not because I was the most talented, but because I took the easy road (for me.) There was little to be joyful about that night; even though I had enjoyed the ride, I could have done better.
I’ve been thinking about that recently, over the TAFE semester break. You see I realised recently that I misjudged the length of the Advanced Diploma I enrolled in at the start of the year. It’s not two years, part time. It’s two years. Done part time. So four years.
Clearly maths is not my strong suit either. 🙂
I’ve considered switching to a degree; I mean why not? It’s more or less the same amount of time, and I will learn more and have a ‘better’ piece of paper. I keep thinking about seventeen-year-old me taking the easy road, and not wanting to repeat her mistakes. I want to do it right this time.
The thing is, the more I think about it, the more I realise, I’m not seventeen anymore. I’m not incapable of doing something I don’t enjoy, or lacking in the ability to predict how that might eventuate. I’m not so stubborn I won’t listen to reason.
I’m also smart enough to know that letting go of pride is helpful. A degree sounds so appealing, but I don’t need to chase that when the Advanced Dip will do. I don’t need that validation. I want the skills so I can pursue the future I know that I want now.
If I had my time again, there’s a good chance, I would go for that higher level English. The high achiever in me wants to know if I could have aced that too. 🙂
But I also wonder if it would have mattered? Maybe I learned everything I needed to in that year because I learned the things that mattered for me. Maybe the love that was pursued then was exactly what I needed for now. And maybe looking back on all of these things is pointless.
I’m not seventeen anymore, and I’m happy with where I’m going. And I think that’s a good place to be.
Would you have done any of your education differently?
What would you tell your 17-year-old self?