So you’ve finished school… any advice?

Posted on November 8, 2018

Our Year 12s are ready for the next stage of their lives.  They will finish their St Paul’s journey next week with our support, our gratitude and our best wishes.

But navigating the transition from School to the ‘real world’ can be daunting.  While there is excitement, there is trepidation also.  So, what advice should our Year 12s take with them?

We interviewed a series of diverse people (a former CEO, past students, a professional athlete and a writer) and they have shared their advice for our Year 12s:

Dr Geoff Garrett AO, former Queensland Chief Scientist and former Chief Executive of RSPCA

“My contribution for the Year 12 students of St Paul’s comes from something I had on my office wall for many years. And I had it mounted as a 21st birthday present for my fourth son. It was written by Walter Chrysler (1875-1940): ‘The real secret of success is enthusiasm. You can do anything if you have enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hope rise to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eye, it is the swing in your gait, the grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of your will and your energy to execute your ideas. Enthusiasts are fighters. They have fortitude, they have staying qualities. Enthusiasm is at the bottom of all progress. With it there is accomplishment. Without it there are only alibis.’”


Thomas Kenneally, author:

“I was not a natural scholar. I was told by a teacher I would not get a job sweeping the streets. Let the insults be an inspiration to you. I studied law and wrote a book. Being a writer was something I could only dream of. I have written about 60 books. I didn’t know how much time you have at the age of 16. Young Australians have permission to dream now.”



Rachel Munt, 2017 St Paul’s School Captain, studying Business at QUT

“Take opportunities that are given to you. You never know where they will lead and what you will be interested in. Be involved in a wide range of things, don’t pigeon-hole yourself straight away. Outside of my study, I work part-time, I babysit and I’m still at St Paul’s as debating coach. My friends have done different things. A lot of people also consider gap years. I didn’t want to do that. I often bite off more than I can chew.”



Darius Boyd, Brisbane Broncos captain

“Learn to be resilient. We all go through challenges. You’re about to leave a great school in St Paul’s and the challenges in the next stage of your life will probably be greater than the challenges at school. But don’t let that worry you. Life is a rollercoaster with its ups and downs, good times and bad times. You can’t avoid that so you have to learn to cope with it. We all need support and we need the help of people or things to get us through these times. Find out what will work for you. It’s about bouncing back quickly – try to make your bad month or week become a bad day or a bad hour.”


Gail Kelly, former CEO of Westpac Bank

“If I reflect now on being at those pivotal ages of 16, 17, 18, I recognise that I was a serious-minded, hard-working, conscientious person who was prone to being a little anxious and worrying about failure. I think now it was too much so. I was too serious-minded. If I had my time again, I would definitely seek to have a bit more fun and worry less about what people thought of me and try some new things, invent a little more. Be prepared to back yourself and know what you love, find out what you love and dream big and then go for it.”


Alex Browning, St Paul’s School student, mathematics PhD student

“Don’t worry about knowing what you want to do and don’t worry about getting into the workplace as soon as possible. Make sure you are doing something that you like. A lot of students have no idea what they want to do. It is pretty unlikely that it is going to be the one thing so know that you can take some time. And don’t think that you have to travel a set path – I have friends that have all done things differently and they have enjoyed what they have done. They’re happy.”



Kat Feeney, ABC Radio presenter

“My one message for the Year 12s of St Paul’s School is this: you are going to be okay. No one has it all figured out. Be kind to yourself. That’s very important. Enjoy the freedom of youth. And don’t worry about that which is beyond your control.”



To our Year 12s of 2018 – enjoy the journey. We look forward to hearing your advice in the years to come.

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