You’ve made it – to the year everyone waits for, the year where you can rule over the school, to the hardest and most rewarding year of all – year 12.
I’m sure you remember looking up to the year 12’s in your year 7 in admiration, wondering how they managed to be so cool and fun in the most stressful year of all. And now, being in their shoes you wonder how you will ever be able to fill it! Because when you saw them, they always looked calm and collected, full of life – and here you are feeling unprepared and completely lost because year 12 feels completely different to what you had imagined.
So here is a guide on what to expect when you’re starting year 12.
Year 12 is a beautiful and stressful part of your life. It is going to be a year full of your biggest highs and your lowest lows. It’s a year where you have the most fun and enjoy what will be your last swimming carnival and house choir, and you go through all the final milestones and events your school has lined up for you. Your year group will learn how to work as a team – or perhaps they already have – and you will start to find joy in the collective joy.
It will also be the most stressful year, that part I’m sure is well known to you already. When starting year 12, EVERYONE knows you’re going to be hit with a truckload of work to do. So it’s not the extra workload that shocks you – in fact, most of us are already so mentally prepared for it that we don’t even feel that it increased by much. What actually shocks you is the sheer amount of pressure that comes with being in year 12. All of a sudden every single mark counts - there is no room for silly errors or bludging. When you know that getting even a few extra marks can pull your ATAR or rank up, every minute spent procrastinating with that trendy Netflix series makes you feel a hundred times more guilty after.
But in fact it’s not just the pressure of being in your final year, most students find it’s actually the self-pressure you put on yourself to study and become something in this world – or perhaps even the pressure of the guilt you feel for not being bothered to study or care at all.
This pressure isn’t something palpable beforehand – I and so many others can tell you about this feeling when you’re in your younger years, and you will nod with your eyes wide like you can really understand it, and then move on with your day – but only once you’re in it can you truly feel its weight. And boy oh boy can the stress run you over like a truck.
So now our goal is: how do we deflate the pressure?
Because don’t get me wrong, year 12 isn’t all doom and gloom. A little bit of pressure is good – but too much can be damaging! So the good news is there are plenty of ways to let go and relax. The final events of year 12 that we were talking about before? Participate in them and go nuts! Wear your brightest house colours to the athletic carnival, sing the cheer song the loudest with your friends, take a fun lap in the pool at the swimming carnival. See, for year 12 these events aren’t simply fun because it’s your last year, these events are actually there for you all to keep yourselves sane.
This will also be where you bond with your year group even more as you learn to work together in a cohesive manner, and bonding with your house mates in a team to lead your house to (hopefully) victory. It’s thrilling and exhausting and is the best way to recharge and prevent burnout, which is one of the biggest problems students face in year 12, and will actually lead to 10x more productive studying afterwards!
Pair things you don’t like to do with things that you want to do. Don’t like doing maths? Listen to your favourite music while doing it! Don’t like chemistry, but enjoy talking to friends? Discuss chemistry concepts or practice questions with them instead. Doing these little changes of pairing tasks will improve your physical and mental health immensely and will make things that you hate much more bearable to do.
Also try find time out to do your hobbies – listen to music, play some sports! Even if you’re not into sports, studies have found that any type of movement is actually beneficial, so go for it! Knock your dancing socks off, or go for a dip in the pool.
I understand that that very pressure may keep you staying home alone and studying - but that’s exactly my point, that’s what we’re trying to get away from! So put down that pen and paper (or is it laptops now?) and let go and enjoy with your year group. Because they’re right – the HSC really isn’t the be all or end all.
Written by KIS Academics Tutor for HSC, Navleen Kaur. Navleen is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Medical Science/Doctor of Medicine at University of Newcastle and has received stellar reviews from her past KIS Academics students. You can view Navleen’s profile here and request her as a tutor.