Student blog: VCAL doesn’t limit your options, it broadens them

Hey I’m Elisha,

I’m a year 12 VCAL student from a bayside school in Melbourne and I would like to share my experiences with VCAL with you all.

Going back to year 10, I was pretty stressed about attending school and it was beginning to become a struggle to get motivated. It wasn’t for the reasons most would think, I am a good student, I was just finding it incredibly difficult to connect what we were learning with what was going on in the world outside of school. Even though no one picked up on it, school was simply not meeting my needs at that point.

It was through my connections with other students at different schools that I first heard about VCAL. What first caught my attention was the vocational element – I really wanted to get hands on with my education and try different possible career paths; to see what fitted me.

I went straight to my Careers Teacher and asked what the process was to enroll. We had a conversation about what I thought I might do after school and how VCAL could help and we decided to choose that pathway. After some reading and online career guidance tools, I chose to undertake VET Event Management as I’m super into coordinating and tracking things and making sure they work well.

What I found in VCAL was two things I’d longed for: a sense of belonging and a curriculum that pushed me in areas that were my direct interests. The structure and curriculum filled the need I had to explore different areas and find out what they look like in the real world. It completely changed my perspective on school. I wanted to go every day.

The kind of things we did outside of everyday school were awesome too. We spent an entire term learning “Independent Living” skills. We literally learned everything about living on your own from the expenses to taxes to healthcare.

In addition to that, we then learned how to launch a “Brand” and market a company. I chose Real Estate and really enjoyed pulling that together. I am 100% sure I will use that no matter what job I get in the future.

Add these skills with my Responsible Service of Alcohol, Food Handling, Barista certificates, First Aid, and over 350 hours of work placement and I have felt incredibly confident going for part time jobs. In fact, I picked up my job at one place while being on placement at another! To be honest, without all these skills and experiences, I doubt I would have got the job.

Once I’ve finished my VCAL this year, I feel like I have millions of options. I have applied to both TAFE and Uni and even though I start at a different place, I will finish the course at the same time as a VCE student. I am also looking into Camp America and the ADF Gap Year Program. I like the idea of getting hands on straight after school and travelling. Whilst I get the opportunity to help others. I can go back to uni or TAFE anytime.

The best bit about it, I don’t feel the pressure to follow what everyone else is doing, as I have the confidence that I can get work when and if I need it.