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Anxiety common amongst teens as they leave school

Anxiety common amongst teens as they leave school

Many students are still unsure about what to do with their lives when leaving school - according to Heather McAllister, author of a recently published book that is aimed at assisting young people as they transition from secondary education.

As students are currently sitting NCEA exams up and down the country for many it is the end of their secondary education - and for many thinking about 'what next?' will be a daunting and overwhelming experience.

"In my experience, at the beginning of their final year of secondary school approximately 10% of students are confident of their choice of course or career with the vast majority not being clear - despite perhaps knowing their core strengths and talents," says Ms McAllister.

Because of the number of options available and confusion around what is required students and their parents are often anxious and confused. What they and their parents don’t realise is that career development is not about one big decision which determines what they will do for the rest of their lives.

According to Professor Paul Spoonley, Regional Director College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University, it is estimated that most people will make between five and eight employment shifts over a working life - this could be between different industries, ocupations or between employers within the same industry.

So the first step is just the begininning and the secret to the first step is knowing yourself. Researchers in career development generally are emphasizing the importance of the big ‘Who am I’ question.

Heather McAllister is a philosophical counsellor specialising in guidance for teenagers and adults. Her discussions with thousands of students around the country about their career development inspired her to write a practical guide. Her intention is to help focus them on who they are and what they want in terms of their goals and dreams.

Spoonley said making choices is about following your interests and being passionate - as well as getting good information.

Who you are is what you do aims to provide young New Zealanders with a guide to their first steps in discovering an interesting and dynamic life after school.

*Who you are is what you do - making choices about life after school *is available in all good bookstores or online at


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