By Bridie McArthur
So, you made it: your final, last, ultimate year of school. It's been a long, long journey of bleary-eyed morning bus rides, messy and haphazardly highlighted notes, and last-minute exam cram sessions, and you are now in the home stretch. I can vividly remember the emotional concoction of fear, excitement, nostalgia, and apprehension that hallmarks year twelve, and I am here to deliver some words of wisdom on how to make the most of it. My qualifications? I made it out of Year 12 in 2021, in one piece, with a high ATAR and an offer to study a course I am excited about.
Here are my tips, tricks, and key pieces of advice to get you through to graduation.
1. If you want to go to uni, take advantage of early entry
Early entry options are great – they take so much stress off if you receive an offer, especially in those last few months of assessment, as you know there isn't as much pressure riding on your results. It's always great to be prepared.
2. Make the most of all your school has to offer
This is your last year to do so! Make as many memories as you can, connect with as many peers as possible, and throw all your effort and energy into the things and events you took for granted the last few years. Carnivals, your friendships, your classmates, your teachers – this is the last time you will ever be immersed in the school environment, and you just might find that you really miss it when you leave.
3. Explore all your options for post-graduation
You have so much time, and so many options and opportunities that you can explore. It will benefit you to explore the possibilities out there so you can make a decision that will suit you, your strengths, and your ambitions. Remember, you are not stuck in one decision; you can always adapt, change, and pivot. Do you want to take a gap year? Go straight to university? What course could you study? Could you do an apprenticeship? There is no one path or journey, and the more information you have, the more freedom you have to make an effective and suited to you decision.
4. Try to minimise stress
Year 12 can be hard and stressful, but it doesn't have to be – and shouldn't be – overwhelmingly so. You need to prioritise your well-being, health, and mental wellness/energy levels, because no assignment, ATAR, or score is worth undermining those. No mistake or failure will ruin your career or life opportunities irreversibly, so give yourself a break! Look out for yourself, and balance study with time with family and friends, exercise, and self-care routines.
5. There are so many pathways you can take
Even if you don't get the results you need for your dream course or opportunity, there are always alternative ways of getting there, even if they take a bit longer. Who knows? Maybe it will lead you to where you're meant to be. Talk to your teachers, or your school's careers advisor, or do some research yourself to figure out what these alternatives might be, to be prepared. I hope this helps to take pressure off.
The most important thing I can tell you is that you need to make sure you make the most of this year, and this experience; this is your last year of high school, and that is something to celebrate, enjoy, and reflect on. Trust me, it'll go fast, and you'll be at the finish line before you know it!