There are points in your school life, normally concentrated when you’re picking subjects for GCSEs and A-Levels, or sitting exams, but also scattered throughout your education, when you can feel the choices you make today shaping the rest of your life. It can be an intolerable pressure: picking GCSE options when you’re 14 shouldn’t have too much impact on what you’re doing when you’re 40, and the fear of making the wrong choice and ruining things is real. On the other hand, it does give you the opportunity to make a real difference to your life at a time when have the chance to consult parents, teachers and career experts rather than going into it alone.
Today we’re taking a look at those moments, and trying to help you shed some of the stress they can bring, so you can make those decisions with a cool, clear head.
The most important thing you need to remember is that nothing you do now can ruin your chances of reaching your dream career. It might make the road a little bumpier, it might add some time to your journey before you can get to grips with what you really want, but you won’t shut yourself off from anything with a poor choice, or a single under-par exam result at the age of 15. If you decide, later on, that what you really to want to be is a lawyer, but you’ve taken no law-based options, you can take conversion courses, full time or as evening classes and still make it as a lawyer or solicitor!
Rather than setting your sights on a specific job, taking choices that feed directly into it, and feeling a spike of anxiety if your dreams change, or the job itself changes while you study, focus on an area of your interests. Think about what you might need for an array of mental health jobs, and make choices that support a career in this general niche, rather than fixating on, for example, working as a CBT Therapist, you’ll be well placed to find a job in the market when you leave education and start looking for work, when CBT Therapists may not be so much in demand.
It can be difficult to find the motivation to make these decisions if you don’t see your career taking you to university. It’s all, quite literally, academic, if you’re planning to get out of education as soon as you can and join the working world. In that case, consider subjects that will get you the skills you need to make a good start: if you’re going to be handling money at all, maths courses can only help. English skills are always useful: ignore the books and plays, what you’re learning is how to write a document that other people find persuasive, professional and easy to follow. That’s a skill worth having in any line of work.