42. Thomas Couch

17 Sep

tom_b100Thomas Couch looks friendly and confident as his picture is eagerly snapped for the accompanying photo for this interview. There is a humble manner to his smile as he strikes a pose. And while Tom smiles for the camera like any other male his age, in reality, the 25 year old becoming a successful entrepreneur, through his online project Course Camel.

Initiated by Tom over 3 years ago, Course Camel is an online website designed for students and those wanting to further study that has revolutionized the way people approach higher education in Australia. It is a resource that allows people to navigate through the endless amount of courses and, using clever tools, help decide which course is right for them.

While this concept may seem simple, anyone who has experienced VCE studies can tell you the procedure of deciding your future isn’t always this way. As a year 12 student of Marcellin College, Bulleen, Tom found himself endlessly wandering from career advisors, to reading lengthy university guides and unnecessarily stressing about his future.

Years down the track, Tom realised his friends still in VCE were experiencing the same negative thoughts towards finding tertiary education and found himself asking a quite simple question.

‘Wouldn’t it be easier if could filter out all the courses that I am ineligible for based on my VCE subjects, so I can actually focus on the ones I am suitable for?’

A simple question that Tom realised, no one could seem to answer. It was this that initially sparked the idea of Course Camel. To chop off huge amount of book that slows students down and stresses them out so they could only see information relevant to their study.

This idea is broadened on the website – prospective students can filter down all education options by their unique needs. This includes interests, locations, qualifications, government funding and much more. This makes finding a course an easier, simpler and not to mention less stressful process.

Although a graduated man now, Tom knows VCE can be tough, with motivation being difficult to keep if students don’t have a goal in place.

“I think it’s easier to be motivated if you have a goal,” Tom rationalises, conveying how he hopes Course Camel can help people find their goal and be motivated to achieve it. Tom’s advice displays a mantra that shows it’s about enjoying the process path as much as the outcome.

As Tom settles into his seat, more comfortable away from the camera, he smiles inwardly as we reflects on how technology is advancing with new apps that allow you to find your phone from anywhere in the world, yet education related advances seem to be stumped. ‘Students are suffering an emotional toll from a lagging system,” says Tom with empathy, hoping his brainchild can save students emotional toil and stress when choosing their subjects, allowing for more time to study and as a result, better results.

While we talk about Course Camel, it is obvious Tom has a great concern for the website and the way it can help those looking for a better future. While it has been a challenge over the past three years, compiling data from all Victorian education institutions, the Course Camel has been so well received by a wide range of people, illustrating he is on the right path.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Tom smiling, yet remaining as humble as he was in the earlier photo shoot, explaining how in today’s day and age time is scarce. Tom explains how in our modern world, the youth know the importance of getting something done quicker yet more affectively – hence why Course Camel has hit a gold mine with students statewide.

“Make sure to have a play around with the filters, you’ve got to try out the filters!” Tom’s enthusiasm is hard to hide. With a project that initially just wanted to improve the education industry, his pride and energy are reflective of the hard work and dedication to a project that at its core simply aims to ‘fix the problem students suffer from’.

While he claims it is the website that motivates students to be happier and find success, Tom himself can be seen as an inspiration for his drive to have Course Camel thrive. As humble as ever, as we conclude our interview, I ask him for any final words for students. Looking as much an entrepreneur as ever, he gets a twinkle in his eye.

“Right now, it’s a really good time for young people,” he smiles passionately and it is evident that Course Camel’s goals are on par with it’s creator – to help and fix the problem students suffer from. With the world moving at the rate it is today and the resources we have at our disposal, young people have a great opportunity to make a positive difference in the world and shape the future,” he says optimistically, showing that while he may not need to enroll in any courses available on Course Camel, Tom sure is on the right path.

Words: Liana Gangi

Photo: Sean Porter

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