Six months is emerging as the new ‘gap year’.
Scores of teenagers are ditching the year away from study after finishing high school to instead pursue their dream career through Southern Cross University six months earlier than anticipated.
For some, a break until July is proving enough time to travel and ‘have a rest’, and they want to get a head start on their study. For others, overseas University exchange seems like a more meaningful option than travelling prior to study.
Southern Cross University, with campuses at Gold Coast, Lismore, Coffs Harbour and online has seen an increase of more than six per cent in domestic enrolments for Session 2 intake in July compared to the same time last year, a combination of mature age students and recent school leavers, partnered with a healthy international cohort.
Gold Coast campus alone is welcoming 250 international students for Orientation this week with major degree drawcards including the internationally-renowned nursing pathways and the double degree in Master in Engineering and Master of Business Administration (MEM/MBA).
Another popular mid-year course is Psychological Science. Students ranked Southern Cross University number one in Australia for psychology, the only University to rate above 90 per cent, in the 2019 Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) dataset by the Federal Government.
Psychology lecturer Dr Desiree Kozlowski from Coffs Harbour campus weighed in on why some students decide to start study in July after finishing high school the year prior.
“Taking a gap year between finishing high school and beginning university is increasingly common in Australia, for various reasons,” Dr Kozlowski said.
“The evidence about whether or not it’s a good idea to take the year out is quite mixed, and there are not a lot of good, comprehensive studies on this. Some students report feeling exhausted or ‘burnt out’ after the pressures of year 12 exams, others are not sure what they want to study, and others want to get some experience working or volunteering in the ‘real world’ before continuing their education.
“What does seem clear is that structured gap years—those with a clear purpose—bring more benefits than unstructured gap years, where the young person simply has free time. Structured gap years can see the young person commence their university course with higher motivation and engagement with their studies. We know that motivation and engagement are linked to successful outcomes.
“However, some students who commence an unstructured gap year, hoping to work out what they want to do, or just recover from their final year at high school, find themselves bored and feeling unchallenged. Instead of waiting out another six months, they can choose to enrol at university mid-year. Thousands of students do this every year.
“For students who are not sure what they want to study, talking with a career adviser at their prospective university can be a much more effective way to find a match with personal strengths and values than working at a job that’s unsatisfying for a year.”
Southern Cross University also offers the award-winning 12-week Preparing for Success Program (PSP), which students can study before embarking on their chosen course. It helps prepare students for University study and is a pathway for students who have not achieved the entry requirements for their desired course.
“For anyone considering whether to study PSP, I’d urge them to jump right in as it’s completely free, they’ll learn skills that will serve them well in their subsequent course, and will also make great connections and come out with so much more confidence in themselves - it’s great to watch,” Dr Kozlowski said.
After finishing grade 12 in 2017 Dale Nicholls took a year off, but decided halfway through to take up her place in the Bachelor of Nursing at Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus.
“I was planning to do the gap year thing but I didn’t really have a plan other than working and felt like I was wasting my time, and I was ready to get into study after six months. I’m really glad I started study mid-year,” she said.
“My dream is to travel to Europe and I realised it would be way better to do it after I’ve studied when I can use my nursing skills to work over there.
“There are so many overseas exchange opportunities through University as well, so many students choose to travel during their studies rather than taking a gap year.”
Bachelor of Contemporary Music student Hugo Jones took half a year off after completing Year 12 to work on a farm and play gigs before committing to fulltime music study at Southern Cross University in Lismore from mid-2018.
Hugo plans to become a professional jazz musician and composer and make a living doing what he loves most. He recently played in a live theatre band during the NORPA season of Dreamland.
“I knew a few people already studying the music course and I was playing piano for them on their live performances and assessments. Through that experience I thought this would be the perfect course for me so I started,” Hugo said.
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