'The things I want my son to know when he's considering uni.'

University of Canberra
Thanks to our brand partner, University of Canberra

One of the biggest pressures on young people is knowing what you’re going to do when you leave school.

At 16 or 17 it’s almost impossible to know what your ideal career is because you haven’t been in the workforce yet. Careers don’t seem real. They are just things you hear your parents complain about or what characters do in your favourite Netflix series.

How do you know what is going to be right for you? How do you know if you are going to even like it? Young people aren’t going to stay in degrees that they don’t feel passionate about. This generation are strong believers in finding meaning in what they do.

My son is 17, he’s the fourth child I’ve been through this process with and he’s typical of most teens finishing school – he doesn’t really know what he wants to do, but he’s having to come up with some solutions because whatever he chooses is going to impact on what happens next.

That’s why I cry at school graduation nights. It’s not just because my baby is all grown up, it’s because sending them to school was a no-brainer. Now the real decisions begin. Which city? Which university? Which course? Which stream? With so much to choose from it’s hard to break down what exactly you want to do with the rest of your life. After all, your life is pretty well just beginning.

Just recently Charlie’s school made it to the Grand Finals for the NSW Mock trials. That’s where high school students compete in teams of Prosecution v Defence. As it turns out the small town country school has stacked up pretty well against some of the most elite schools in the country. This is what got us thinking more seriously about the range of careers and degrees available in the business, government and law. It’s a peculiar thrill to realise your son has inherited your calmness under cross-examination. “Did you buy more shoes?” “Define ‘more’.”

University of Canberra
"'More', you say. Tell me more." Charlie, such a character. Image: supplied.

We live regionally so our kids have to leave home for university. This makes living affordability a huge issue because our kids have to leave home. While it's a financial challenge for a young student to leave home, I think moving out is invaluable for maturation and developing the life skills that feed back into study and work life. The only issue is, how does a young person pay the big rents some of our major cities demand?


If a young person has to work long hours to survive it’s going to impact on their study. Sydney is a wonderful city, but problematic for a university student on a tight budget. Can you even rent a room anywhere for under $400? Compared to Sydney, Canberra stacks up well in the affordability stakes. Rooms can rent from $145 per week. Big rooms. In nice big spacious houses.

People have made jokes about Canberra, but that tide is turning. I've lived there and I loved it. It’s actually a very liveable city, and was ranked third best city in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2018 list. It has the University of Canberra, which is ranked in the top 100 young universities globally and offers degrees that are updated to keep up with the times in areas of business, government, commerce, accounting, international relations and law. It’s got excellent public transport, it's not overly congested, it has lots of green space (important for a country kid), a major foodie and cultural scene, but at the same time it offers all the thrills of a major city.

The options for young people are overwhelming. So I sat down with my son and first worked out what he doesn’t want to do. I find the process of elimination is a good way to narrow options. It’s clear from the outset that Charlie’s not a scientist. We can cross Nuclear Physicist off the list. He’s also not good at digging holes or lifting stuff, so any trade-based options are also a no-go. We sat down and worked through what he loves doing.

He loves theatre and English. He’s passionate about social justice. He completed two weeks overseas this year helping build a classroom for an orphanage in Cambodia. These passions and interests are often the clues to where your young person’s chosen path might be!

After doing a little research, I was impressed with the flexible and practical pathways on offer at the University of Canberra. Firstly because the degrees have real-world application, and are updated to keep up with the changing job market. I mean, if you are interested like Charlie is in politics and international relations, what better place to study than where it all happens?

My son is also very athletic and Canberra, as the home of the Australian Institute of Sport offers huge opportunities for continuing his love of soccer and basketball. Sporting communities offer another place for people to develop friendships and support networks.

Secretly I’m hoping Charlie chooses the Business, Government & Law department. Imagine having your own accountant or financial advisor in the family?

But seriously, the amount of specialisations on offer in Business or Commerce pretty much set a kid up for graduate success, wherever they might end up once they're a full grown-up.

As a creative with an insecure career and limited strategic thinking I was hoping that my son might score on The Bachelor. I don’t mind which one, The Bachelor of Business! The Bachelor of Commerce! The Bachelor of Accounting! Any Bachelor will do, as long as he gives his mum a rose!

But really, as long as he's happy with his decisions, that's all I could ask for.

What are the main factors to consider when you're choosing a university? Do you go to uni in Canberra? Share with us your advice and tales below.

This content is brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, University of Canberra.

University of Canberra

The University of Canberra designs changing degrees for changing times.
Our new-world degrees give students a career advantage now and in the future, and it works.
We are number 1 in the ACT for fulltime employment and starting salaries. That’s right, no 1.
So, check out our flexible degrees in business, government, commerce, accounting, international relations and law.
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