Year 12: Expectation versus reality

From around the age of 15, VCE is considered an ominous prospect.

It’s built up by our teachers as the gruelling end to our schooling lives, supposedly full of stress, torture and piles of work and pressure. Yet what really happens during the final year of a teenager’s schooling life?

It goes extremely quickly

This warning is always passed down, year by year, like a generational folk tale that allows the older and wiser student to teach the younger one about the pitfalls of Year 12. Considering Year 12 students usually have their last day of school in October, this essentially eliminates Term 4, drastically shortening your time in the classroom. Once end-of-year formalities are completed, you get plenty of time to either study and visit teachers or procrastinate at home.

This can be a positive aspect as it means you go through the content learning and SAC routine for a shorter amount of time, and then get an extended period to consolidate the knowledge and study intensely for the stressful finish line of exams. However, if you fall behind you need to work even harder than usual to catch up, as you only have a limited amount of time to squeeze in all the heavy lifting before you are done. Forever. Isn’t that intimidating?

The only advice I can pass on is to enjoy the year. Enjoy being the oldest people at the school. Enjoy the special allowances, such as study periods, the holy grail of a sleep-deprived student’s life. Enjoy a plethora of 18th birthday parties, receiving Year 12 jackets, attending formals and that constant feeling of relief each time you walk out of a classroom after completing a SAC. If you do that, it means you can appreciate the brief glimpses of reward that you will feel in abundance once it is all done, without sacrificing the fun of completing Year 12 with your friends.

It’s really not that bad

Sure, Year 12 is built up as a scarily stressful and mentally torturous year of work, work and more work. Yet if you ask any Year 12 you will probably hear that it really isn’t as bad as described by intense teachers and jaded former students. Personally, Year 12 has been challenging yet enjoyable, as I’ve been able to juggle my four subjects (I did two Year 12 subjects last year - which most certainly helps and I highly recommend if possible) while being able to participate in co-curricular activities such as a captaincy position, writing, work and sporting commitments. Therefore, I have had more autonomy than in the past, with fewer hours in the classroom and more time to organise my own schedule. And that’s the crux of it – manage your time well, and understand what works for you. Learn how you study best, and when it is best to do certain activities and when it is better to maybe go for a walk, or ‘brain break’. It changes from person to person, and is fundamental to ensuring that your mental health is in a good place and that you’re maintaining a social life, as this all interlocks to create a better environment where you can study more efficiently and perform better in school. All of it is subjective and depends on your lifestyle and what you want, and that is the glory of it.

So trust me, if you are about to enter into Year 12, don’t be scared. Sure, it may feel overwhelming at times but it’s not all bad. You learn how to cope, how to work to deadlines in an incredible manner, how to organise your life. And ultimately, you learn about yourself, which is the most important and most rewarding experience, one that will ensure you enjoy Year 12 for the temporary problems it poses.

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