Ryan Milton graduated from Kincumber High School and has quickly learned that you can’t always plan what will make you happy.
Ryan enjoyed school, and found his classes interesting, but began to struggle after embarking upon a Bachelor of Education/ Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in geography, which he says was “just a lot of fancy words for becoming a geography teacher.” In many ways, Ryan enjoyed what he was learning, but he didn’t enjoy the commute and he struggled with the many hours on the train five days a week, sometimes to go to class for a little as one hour. Ryan quickly lost motivation, but he stuck with it through his first year. This wasn’t the first time Ryan hadn’t enjoyed a course; he wasn’t a fan of HSC English either, but he says that “the difference between university courses and English at school is that you don’t have to do that course if you don’t like it.”
“... it doesn’t matter what you are doing, whether it be smashing a double degree, living on campus somewhere, living at home, working full time, working part time, having a gap year, or being that lifeless zombie we all secretly want to be… As long as you are happy, that’s what matters, I cannot stress that enough.”
At the end of his first year, Ryan made the decision to swap degrees. This is a decision which is quite common for young university students. By the end of first year, many eighteen and nineteen-year-old students have enough distance from high school, maturity and experience with university structures to make a more informed decision about their future. Ryan chose to study Environment Law, a more difficult course, but something Ryan felt genuinely excited about thanks to Mr. Waters, one of Ryan’s teachers at Kincumber High. This course tied in well with geography, and Ryan found he had a passion for environment and law. However, after just one semester, Ryan deferred, which he says was a big mistake. Quitting a course halfway through the year means you cannot return to the course without starting from scratch, and you lose all the hard work you’ve already done. Ryan’s advice is to stick it out for the year. Regardless of what he chose to study, Ryan just didn’t enjoy going. He was always on the train, broke from travelling, constantly going straight from the train to work and struggling to get assignments in on time. Ryan still wants to study Environment Law, but not right now. He says he received plenty of warning from parents, but “can happily say my parents weren’t studying full time at my age, and whether they regret that or not, they made their choice, and so have I.”
Although many of Ryan’s friends are still enjoying studying, it just wasn’t for him. He may never go back to university, but says he is very happy that he tried. This “does not mean you necessarily should too, but if you’re happy, and you know it, (clap your hands) then that’s all that matters!”
However, just because Ryan is no longer attending university, doesn’t mean he is sitting at home eating cornflakes and watching daytime soap operas.
Ryan made sure to get a decent job at Crown Plaza in Terrigal. Ryan is now a casual waiter, but much more importantly, Ryan is happy. He says “it doesn’t matter what you are doing, whether it be smashing a double degree, living on campus somewhere, living at home, working full time, working part time, having a gap year, or being that lifeless zombie we all secretly want to be… As long as you are happy, that’s what matters, I cannot stress that enough.” Ryan’s time off university has given him a chance to save, and next year he will be travelling through Europe with his best friend. He says, “saving [to travel] is hard work, but the opportunities after are amazing. If you don’t know what you want to do, go let the world inspire you!”