Uni year brings brighter days for Speech Pathology student Tessa

“The implications of COVID-19 on my Year 12 studies amplified my fear that I would not achieve my best, that all the effort I had put in throughout high school and my final year would not pay off. I was worried that I would have less opportunities to do exactly what I wanted.”

Like most of her peers, Tessa Jones will never forget her final year of VCE, thanks to the immense challenges of studying during the pandemic.

Twelve months on however, despite COVID-19 continuing to disrupt life, Tessa is wrapping up her first year as a Speech Pathology student at the Bendigo Campus.

Tessa says being accepted into La Trobe’s Aspire Program, which rewards community-minded students with reduced ATAR requirements and an early offer into uni, helped alleviate her fears.

“After applying for the Aspire Program and receiving an early conditional offer for a Bachelor of Speech Pathology in September, I found that the Year 12 exam period was much less stressful as I did not have to worry about the ‘what ifs’ of not getting into my dream course,” Tessa says.

“There was also the added reassurance of Aspire’s minimum ATAR requirements and Second Chance program in easing the pressures of a challenging year. Another major benefit of the Aspire Program was the full access to revision resources through VCE Plus. I felt way more prepared going into the exam period with this up my sleeve!”

We asked Tessa for her advice to current Year 12 students who are now in the midst of exams, given their shared experience of a VCE like no other.

Tessa said for her, it was important to continue with the same routines and approaches to study that had worked for her in the past.

“The best thing I could do to feel in control was to stick to my usual habits and do what I knew worked well for me. For example, I would be more productive studying independently at home, and then coming to school to receive feedback and reassurance from my teachers.” 

For current Year 12s who may be feeling unsure about their future, Tessa recommends using the time wisely between graduation and course offers.

“Contact professionals in the field that you are interested in and see if you can sit and observe them for the day. Having a few opportunities to experience the ‘day-to-day’ of different professions will be very useful in determining exactly what you hope to be doing after studies at university.

“Don’t be afraid of taking some time off to gain work and life experience. Whether it be until midyear course intake, for a gap year or longer… there’s nothing wrong with taking time to work out who you are and what you really want to do.

“And finally, talk with your closest teachers. Their insights into your strengths, key skills and attributes are useful for you to decide which professions you may be best suited to.”

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