In Year 12 and still uncertain about your career or post school preferences?

If you are unclear about your initial career preferences it can be difficult to make decisions now that can affect the initial career options that will be open to you. For example, without a career idea in mind, it can be difficult to know what course to apply for, let alone the order of preference of courses that are within your reach.


If you are in year 12, you will have to implement a career decision in the coming months. Some students in Year 12 are well prepared. They have made a decision about their post-school preferences and are happy with their choice. Many Year 12 students, however, are uncertain about their next step after Year 12 and for some this situation can lead to feelings of anxiety.

If you are unclear about your initial career preferences it can be difficult to make decisions now that can affect the initial career options that will be open to you. For example, without a career idea in mind, it can be difficult to know what course to apply for, let alone the order of preference of courses that are within your reach. Similarly, if you know that you want an apprenticeship but you are not sure what industry, you may struggle to convince an employer about your commitment to a specific apprenticeship.

Professor Itamar Gati has researched career decision-making for many years. He identified three main factors that make it difficult for people to make career-related decisions. These are:

  1. Lack of readiness. Some Year 12 students may not be motivated to make career decisions yet. Some may find lots of life decisions difficult to make and deciding what to do next year is just one of these. Some Year 12 students may want to make the perfect decision, of but this is unrealistic. Others may not know the steps involved in making career decisions.
  2. Lack of information. Some Year 12 students may lack the self-awareness needed to make informed career-related choices. Some may not have information about the range of post-school available or they may not have done sufficient in-depth research into promising alternatives in order to be confident about making a choice. Others may not know the different ways of researching career and course information.
  3. Inconsistent information. Some Year 12 students may have unreliable information or conflicting information. An example of unreliable information may be the belief that a Bachelor of Arts does not lead to any job, or that once you finish your apprenticeship and become qualified there are no opportunities to go further in your career. Of course, we know that both of these are myths, yet such myths may cause decision-making difficulties. Conflicting information may be internal or external. An example of an internal conflict may a gap between your preferences and capabilities, e.g., you want to study veterinary medicine, but you are not sure if you will reach the required ATAR or OP. There could also be a conflict between your preferences and aspects of the occupation, e.g., you may want to be an early childhood educator and also earn a high income. An example of an external conflict may be that you have a career in mind, but someone close to you does not approve or that a course you want to study is only offered in another state and you are not ready to move away from home.

If any of these career decision-making difficulties apply to you, it may be is best that you see a career practitioner. A career practitioner will be able to help you explore your career indecision and support you in resolving any issues and making progress to informed career and course decision-making. In the meantime, however, you may wish to refer to the career decision-making page on the Grow Careers website. The decision-making cycle has been reproduced below and each element of the model is expanded on here. Working through this model can help with career decision–making difficulties arising from lack of readiness or lack of information. Difficulties arising from inconsistent information may require specialised career practitioner support.

From "A Cognitiive Approach to Career Development and Services: Translating Concepts into Practice," by J. P. Sampson, Jr., G. W. Peterson, J. G. Lenz, and R. C. Reardon, 1992, The Career Development Quartely, 41, p. 70. Copyright 1992 by the National Career Development Association. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Knowing I need to make a choice

The need to make a career-related decision has been forced on Year 12 students by the education system. Year 12 students must choose something for next year. For those who are uncertain, there is a gap between a desired state (i.e., decided) and the current situation (i.e., undecided).

Understanding myself and my options

Understanding myself involves knowing your interests, values, skills, abilities, values, personal life circumstances and what is important to you in making your initial career decision and related post-school option choices.

Sources of support for developing an understanding of yourself include:

  • Having career conversations with people who know you well.
  • Consulting a career practitioner who can assist you with career counselling and if needed reliable and valid career assessment together with individual feedback and interpretation and career conversations that explore the personal meaning of the assessment.
  • The career profile questionnaire and bullseye charts (subjects you enjoy and related careers) on the myfuture website.

Understanding my options means knowing factual information about occupations, courses, pathways (standard and alternative), costs, accommodation, how to apply, and knowing about the world of work. There are many sources of support for understanding your options, including:

Expanding and narrowing my options

To make optimal career-related decisions, you need expand your options by identifying all reasonable possibilities that match your interests, skills and abilities and values. Sources of support for expanding your options include:

  • The Grow Careers page on how to explore career options and the page on how to explore courses
  • Myfuture
  • Career events, expos, taster days, open days
  • Printed and digital course and career information
  • People who work in occupations or courses that interest you.
  • Good universities guide
  • To make optimal career decisions, you need to narrow down your reasonable alternatives to a manageable list of 3-5.

    Sources of support for narrowing down your options include:

    • People who know you well
    • Career practitioners
    • PIC 3-stage process of career decision making developed by Professor Gati. This sequential elimination model of career decision-making should help you to reach the 3-5 most promising alternatives. If you struggle with the description of the process consult your school career practitioner.



    This involves comparing your top 3-5 careers and related learning pathways with your personal circumstances, preferences etc. and making an optimal choice.

    Sources of Support for comparing your top 3-5 alternatives include:

    • People who know you well
    • Career practitioners
    • The Choice model developed by Professor Gati. This online activity will help you compare a small number of alternatives on your career shortlist against what you want from your career-related decision. This is a rationale process that identifies an optimal choice based on the information that you have entered. Of course, it is up to you as to whether you choose to implement the optimal alternative. The process of comparison is likely to help you with career transitions throughout your life.

    Implementing my choice

    This involves taking the steps needed to implement your plans for next year before you finish Year 12. This includes:

    • Doing your best in your studies
    • Applying for courses, jobs, gap options
    • Searching for scholarships
    • Investigating accommodation options, applying for residential colleges
    • Settling into your chosen option next year

    Knowing I made a good choice

    It is important to continually monitor your progress. You need to check to ensure that the choice is still right for you. You may need to review or refine your plans.

    Sources of support include:

    • The Past Students section of Grow Careers
    • Myfuture
    • Student support staff and academic advisers at university, TAFE or your RTO.
    • Apprenticeship mentor programmes
    • Family and friends

    Wishing all Year 12 students the best with their academic studies and with making and implementing career-related choices and preferences for next year.

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