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Five Common Causes of Anxiety About Transitioning From School

Posted by Peter Barnes on January 6, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Stressed teenager.jpgMany students find the final year of high school can be particularly challenging.

As well as the pressure of preparing and sitting for their final exams, students can become anxious about what happens after they leave school.

The Learning Capacity Podcast spoke with career counsellor, Gordon Doyle about the most common causes of this anxiety, and what students, their parents and teachers can do to help reduce it.


Gordon Doyle has been a career counsellor in schools and private practice for over 20 years and has seen first hand how students react to the stresses involved in transitioning from school.

According to Gordon, these are the five most common causes of anxiety: 

  1. General sense of uncertainty about the future
  2. Not being clear about what they want to do after school
  3. Feeling that everyone else knows what they want to do but they don't
  4. Not knowing where to seek help to clarify the next steps in their life
  5. Too much focus on ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank)

Gordon’s advice for students transitioning from high school includes:

General anxiety about the future:  “There's a lot of negative stuff out there, thanks to social media, advertising and the news media. It's important to focus on the positives.”

“Parents and teachers should always encourage a spirit of optimism and hope in the young people - encourage them to think positively and optimistically about the future.”

Not clear about next steps after school:  “Find yourself a good careers adviser or other knowledgeable person to help you generate ideas, self understanding, and options for careers and study. This will assist you to establish clarity about your next steps.

Where to seek help:  “If you don’t have access to a careers adviser there are other things you can do. One for example is the Australian government web site called My Future (www.myfuture.edu.au).”

“I really commend it to anyone who may be having a bit of career uncertainty. And it's not just designed for young people. It's designed for people to go to at any point throughout a working lifetime.”

ATAR:  “I've had young people come in and tell me that this person or that person has said to them if they don't get a great HSC result, a fantastic ATAR and go to university, then their life's over. That's just simply not true.”

“There's too much focus on the ATAR and all too often for the wrong reasons. It’s not relevant unless you want to go to university. It is just a device used by universities to help select students. It's of no relevance to employers or other providers of post-secondary education.”

“And if you want to go to uni but don’t have the necessary ATAR, you still have are a whole range of pathway options.”

More details on the podcast

You can hear Gordon Doyle speak about this advice in detail on the podcast, where he also discusses:

  • The value of a gap year
  • The first and most important career planning question
  • What it means to be successful

Related Posts

What’s in an ATAR? Answers from Career Counsellor Gordon Doyle

What is School For? Passing Exams or Enabling Students to Thrive


Topics: Podcasts, Careers

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