I still remember the day I got into Melbourne High School. As I was getting ready to go to school in the morning, my dad came into my room and told me the good news. I was so elated that I even did a little dance!
Finally, all the hard work and sacrifice I had put in over the previous year had paid off, and I would soon be embarking on a new chapter in my life at a selective entry school.
Doubts, uncertainties and a poor mindset
However, fears about starting at a selective entry high school soon started to set in. Will I fit in? How will I cope? Changing schools always tends to be a scary experience because you have no idea what to expect.
The key thing to realise is that this is normal! We naturally feel the most afraid about the things we don’t understand, and sometimes we deal with such situations in a maladaptive way – for example, by assuming the worst.
I, like many others, subconsciously fell into the trap of believing that selective entry schools were a daunting and ultra-competitive environment to enter.
Imposter syndrome, a phenomenon where people doubt their talent and achievements despite evidence of their accomplishments, started to set in. Everyone here seems to be the best of the best except me, so do I even belong here?
If you go into your first year at your selective entry school with this kind of mindset, it will only end up limiting you. In hindsight, my first year at Melbourne High School was consumed by the journey of my adjustment to the school when it didn’t have to be. At the time, I was scared to truly put myself out there because I didn't have the mindset that encouraged me to try new things.
Making the most of your time at a selective entry high school
Selective entry schools are known for their academic success, and rightly so. Although the teaching facilities may not be a match for some of the wealthier private schools, being surrounded by some of the smartest people in the state means that you can learn from each other.
The camaraderie at Melbourne High School is something I look back on with fondness; everyone would help each other and no one would be left behind, even when it would be selfishly advantageous to keep things to yourself like in Year 12.
But one of the biggest benefits of attending a selective entry school is that you are presented with a massive range of opportunities to develop yourself. Throughout my later years at my selective entry high school, I pursued activities that I would not have been able to elsewhere: I became the SRC Representative of my class, joined debating, experienced what it was like to be an Army Cadet, and even established my club for those interested in soccer.
These experiences helped me to grow as a person, and what you’ll realise later in life is that great results with significant personal development are much more important than insanely good academic results with a stagnant personality.
Melbourne High School helped me to start my journey of self-improvement and shaped me to become the person I am today. Selective entry schools can have the same transformative effect on you too, but only if you dare to step outside your comfort zone.
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So what are my final top tips?
Firstly, never think of yourself as unworthy of your place in a selective entry school. Even if you ended up guessing all Cs on your entrance exam, you know that you did the hard yards to prepare for the test as best you could, so you still deserve your place in the school as much as the person next to you.
Secondly, being open to opportunities that come your way is the secret to growing as a person, so try new things and push yourself to improve in multiple facets of your character.
And above all, simply enjoy your time there; being at a selective entry school was one of the best periods of my life, and I hope that you too will come out of it with lifelong friends and unforgettable memories.
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Help! I feel like I’ve got imposter syndrome! Everyone here is so much smarter than me, how did I even end up in this place?
Never forget that everything you achieve in life comes down to your hard work and dedication, so you always deserve it! It seems easy to compare yourself to the achievements of others and look down upon yourself because, at some level, we all want to strive for the best.
The key to curing imposter syndrome is accepting that there will always be someone smarter than you, but this doesn’t matter because you have the unique strengths and talents which make you who you are.
Truly having confidence in your ability is one of life’s biggest challenges, but once you start making the steps to believe in yourself, the potential you unlock is limitless.
How should I make the most of my first year at my selective entry school?
Make the most of the opportunities that you're given – and no, I'm not just talking about academics. Selective entry schools provide many extra-curricular opportunities that allow you to develop yourselves as people, and being able to pursue such opportunities represents, in my mind, one of the biggest strengths of selective entry schools.
Put your hand up for everything you think you can reasonably manage and try things you’ve never thought about before because you never know if you love something until you give it a go!
I still feel nervous about starting at my selective entry school! What should I do?
Relax! I know it seems like it’s easier said than done, and I don’t expect every single one of your fears to have been alleviated by reading this one article. But always remember that a) it’s normal to feel this way when entering a new school, and b) everyone else will be feeling the same way.
Don’t let your nervousness limit your enthusiasm and willingness to try new things because you'll regret it in hindsight. Be brave, be bold, and be you.
Written by KIS Academics Tutor for VCE Maths Methods and Specialist Maths, Calvin Marangoly. Calvin is currently studying the Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine course at Monash University. You can view Calvin's profile here and request him as a tutor.