So we've finished school for good... what now?

Warwick State High School students Jesse McDougall, Jessie Johnson, Hayden Haidley and Katie Johnson finished Year 12 last week.
Warwick State High School students Jesse McDougall, Jessie Johnson, Hayden Haidley and Katie Johnson finished Year 12 last week. Erin Smith

AS SCHOOL leavers return from Schoolies and catch up on some much needed sleep, they'll also have to decide their next move.

University? Full-time work? An apprenticeship?

Each year, thousands of Southern Downs teenagers face the same debacle and while some have their sights set firmly on a particular path, others are left scratching their head with no idea what to do next.

If that sounds a bit like someone you know, here are a few tips from University of Southern Queensland director of marketing Helen Nolan.

The first step?

Do your research. Chat to someone who already does that job and find out what an average day on the job is like. Find out what qualifications are needed for that job.

Become familiar with the QTAC process which handles the applications for all Queensland universities. See

Gap year or straight into tertiary education?

Deciding on a career path should be seen as a journey not a one-time transition or destination.

For some, travel and work in entry-level employment clarifies thoughts. For others a gap year interrupts the rhythm of study. Which you choose is an individual decision and students and families should weigh up what suits them best.

A gap year is NOT an opportunity to be a couch potato and do nothing.

Where do I get info?

Head to to compare universities across the country.

USQ has student relationship officers who can answer questions, talk through options, give advice on application processes, and give an insight into university life in general. Phone USQ on 1800 269 500.

More advice for school leavers...

Don't panic if you don't get the OP you're expecting. There are lots of different pathways to university, including tertiary preparation programs or starting with a degree that has different entry requirements. If you find yourselves in this situation when OPs come out, you should call USQ and find out which pathway is right for you. There is no reason this set-back should come between you and the career you want.

Topics:  employment jobs jobseeker advice schoolies

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