Duke of Ed: Is it Worth it?
Whether you are in year nine or year twelve, in Australia or France, the Duke of Ed Award is an opportunity that is available to you! I’m sure you would have heard mixed reviews of the program, some people rave about it – claiming that their participation has opened so many doors in life. Others may say it was the biggest waste of time.
In all honesty, both people have a point. The Duke of Ed Award (DEA) is one of those give-and-take things. The more effort and enthusiasm you put into it, the more you will get out of it.
What is Duke of Ed?
The Award is a leading structured (non-formal education) youth development program, empowering all young Australians aged 14-24 to explore their full potential and find their purpose, passion, and place in the world, regardless of their location or circumstance. The Award is a fully inclusive program and has no social, political, or religious affiliations. (DEA international, 2021)
To expand a little, the program has three award levels, bronze, silver, and gold. At the age of 14, you can enter Bronze, at 15 (and after completing Bronze), you can enter Silver, and at 16 you can enter Gold.
At each level, there are four to five components that need to be fulfilled. These are a skill, a service, a physical activity, a journey, and a residental project for gold only. Aside from the hour goals for each level, you pretty much have total freedom with what you do for each component.
The only other thing you need to consider before entering the program is which Award Centre you will join. An award centre will usually be a school, sporting club, uni, or open centre. To find out more about registering with an Award Centre, check out the official website here.
What about COVID?
Starting the Award while COVID restrictions are still on and off can be difficult but very much doable. We’ve got some ideas for each component that can be done online or in restrictions.
Physical Activity: This does not have to be a formal training session or lesson at a sporting club. This can be as simple as running on the treadmill for half an hour, twice a week. Do you dread running as much as I do? How about try skipping, swimming, Just Dance, yoga, jumping on the trampoline, skateboarding, rollerblading, or riding your bike around the neighborhood?
Skill: I had started my skill as gymnastics coaching before lockdown which was obviously impossible to continue with in Term 3. Luckily you don’t have to stick to just one activity for each component. During those three months off I changed my skill to creative writing. You can do this too on the Online Record Book. Go to the component, then the overview, then press ‘add additional activity and follow the prompts from there. Some other ideas are sewing, resin, reading, cooking, crocheting, or pretty much anything on our 15+ Hobbies post.
Service: Quite a few charity organizations maintain open throughout the entirety of stay-at-home orders. If, however, you can’t seem to find one that is open or accepting volunteers, Days for Girls and Zooniverse are great options.
In terms of the journey and residential projects, you might just have to wait until more travel restrictions are lifted to complete these components. Once you can complete these, though, the opportunities are amazing. I’ve booked to go to Asia with Projects Abroad next year, fingers-crossed things are looking up then.
But it’s too late to start…
Unless you are 23.5 years old, it’s not too late to start. Duke of Ed offers direct enrolment into the Gold component (which takes between 12 and 18 months) and to receive the award, you must be under 25 years old. Since the Gold Award is heavily favored on resumes and university applications, this is a very reasonable option… one that I would recommend.
I, personally, did Bronze and then directly enrolled into Gold (essentially my bronze is worth nothing now because I haven’t completed Silver). Despite this, I do not regret my decision. The great thing about only doing Gold is that you can go ‘full out’ on it. It is a much cheaper option and you can finance an international trip with the money that would have been spent on local expeditions for Bronze and Silver.
So is Duke of Ed worth it?
For me, yes! In addition to the extra ATAR points (that alone makes it worth it), the Duke of Ed Award has led me to get more involved in my community through service, to make more friends through the open journeys, and just given me some routine in times of uncertainty. A few other odd benefits are it being something to add to your resume (even for casual jobs at Macca’s) and for applications for just about any program.
It is all about finding the perfect balance between effort and reward with the Duke of Ed program. If you are willing to exit your comfort zone a little, the DEA program is definitely worth it.