Advice from one current HSC student to another

By Adam Roth in Easy Reading
12th of February 2018

This guide is kind of a compilation-taking the little advice given to me by my family and friends, and combining with all of the stuff I have shared with my own friends. I like giving out advice and sharing it with other people. Although my advice isn’t coming from an expert graduate. I’m a year 12 student, we are in the same boat. I still want to share what I have learned and what I tell my friends with you!

To whomever is reading this, I hope it helps!

Just do it 

I know that seeing this might make you groan, but it’s true. JUST DO IT. That assignment, homework, major work or revision that you’ve been putting off working on, JUST DO IT. Starting it early is going to be so worth it in the long run. I did this in year 11, and in the end even though year 11 didn’t affect me that much, I still procrastinated a lot and it caused me major problems. So this year, just save yourself the trouble and get into it as soon as you can. There’s time to play video games, binge watch Netflix and read books (my main forms of procrastination) later.

Start your work ASAP, do those study notes and always ask your teachers for help. If you’re struggling to resist the temptation, then go to a library or somewhere away from a lot of the distractions of your house and buckle down to work.

Stay on top of it dammit 

I had a major habit of allowing myself to get buried under the weight of a lot of work at once, and that stems from my procrastination habit (that’s a nasty one, watch out for it). Whatever your method of organising stuff, be it a phone or a regular) calendar, diary, post it notes or a whiteboard; Utilise it to stay on top of your work. It can pile up very very fast; anything from assignments, to science pracs, to major work drafts. All of it. Avoid having Mt Everest of homework build up and weigh on your mind.

In year 11, especially in term 3 a lot of my assignments popped up and I let it all weigh me down and let me tell you, it’s NOT a good thing. It not only hurt my marks (this was twofold, as it prevented me from studying for upcoming exams, and the fact that I had to split my time between many different assignments meant my marks for each individual one could’ve been heaps better), it also hurt me socially as I had to surrender a lot of my time to getting these assignments to a passable standard, which meant neglecting my friends. So in the long run, nothing good comes from letting the work gradually pile up; and there’s going to be more work this year…

Don’t stop doing the things you want to do 

Just because its year 12, doesn’t mean you have to give up doing the things you like to do. Play soccer on the weekend, see that new movie with your friends and work at that supermarket up the road from you so you have some cash in your pocket for fuel and whatever else you want. Watch a bit of tv, go for Maccas run and spend time with family. Don’t avoid the things you want to do just because you’ve somehow convinced yourself you don’t have time and have to study.

This may sound a little contradictory to my earlier points and screams PROCRASTINATION AT ITS FINEST which will lead to having a huge pile of work. But there’s a fine line you can walk to achieve adequate time for work and adequate time for doing what you enjoy doing. Find that line and you become a master of the game that is “year 12”. Its easy to make a mental list of things you can do after this assignments done, or after this block of exams or even after you graduate. But sometimes, its the little things that you enjoy doing that make the grind of year 12 feel a little better.

Make sure you have a plan B

Sometimes plan A doesn’t work. Weather it’s the short term plan of getting ALL your assignments done before the weekend, or the more important longer term goals like going to uni or travelling the world. Sometimes, they just don’t tend to work out the way you wanted them too. Life isn’t a straight line like that dreaded straight highway that just goes on and on, it’s like driving on a road at night with horrible lights that barely light up the road, that has so many twists and turns and elevation turns that you never know what you’re going to get next. It’s unpredictable as hell.

The point is when plan A fails have a plan B; and a plan C, D, E, all the way to Z. There’s 26 letters in the alphabet, so you can make 26 different plans at once when the first few don’t pan out the way you thought they would. It’s good to have a clear vision of the pathway you want after school. This is where your 25 back up plans come in handy, because there’s so many ways you can still get to your goal when plan A fails. By planning ahead like this, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain IF and when plan A fails.

You shouldn’t be afraid to talk to people

This is one I say to all my friends. It’s going to be hard and it just gets harder. You’re probably going to feel a lot of pressure this year (from different sources-it varies from person to person; you might even be that one person who gets through year 12 relatively unscathed-lucky you) and quite a few people will probably tell you to “just relax” Or “ease up”. But you might still feel the pressure anyway. So talk to someone. Maybe your favourite teacher, your parents, your school counsellor or a maybe just one of your friends. Whoever it is, just don’t be afraid to say “I’m having a crap time, can someone please help me out?”

Your teachers may know a lot, but not necessarily everything

Okay, your teachers know their stuff. They know the syllabus’ they teach, how to reference properly, how to get top marks in that essay you’ve been worrying about and what case studies to use in that cheeky business studies report that you can’t quite seem to understand (special shoutout to my business studies teacher who is a master at utilising case studies). Most of the time, they can be pretty good to talk too when you’re stressed about exams, or when you need help with your essay. But while they do know a lot, they don’t know everything – like when it comes to your post-school plans.

They can give you some advice, but you shouldn’t rely solely on their guidance to direct your way of thinking (place as much emphasis on their advice as you like). Talk to literally everyone: Your older siblings, parents, people at work, students at uni days and career advisers. Or just use Google, and Google the crap out of what your post high school dreams are. The point is not just about post-school plans. It’s about everything. There’s a tonne of other resources out there other than your teachers that you can utilise. Do your research.

Sort out your sleeping schedule

If you’re like me, you probably spent your whole holidays staying up until 2am and watching TV, or having adventures with friends and then sleeping in until lunchtime. God that time was fun… but it’s over now and you’ve got to get used to reasonable bed times and blaring alarms once again. Luckily, I have a few tips that you can use to get your schedule back on track.

  1. A sleep calculator. This cool site will tell you when you should go to bed if you have a specific time to wake up in the morning (so that you don’t miss that bus) or what time you should wake up if you know when you’ll be crashing into bed. It’s not really 100% scientifically accurate, but it’s a good place to start if you’re stuck with how to reset your sleep schedule
  2. Set a bed time. Now something that’s a little more scientific is the fact that your body enjoys routine. I you set a specific time to go to bed and wake up in the morning your body clock will get you into a regular rhythm, making you feel more ready for what school throws at you.

Finally, don’t overthink things

This is one piece of advice you’ve probably heard a thousand and one times; but that’s because it’s true. There are probably going to be times when year 12 feels like its going to come crashing down around you. That’s because you overthink what is happening. This year take some time to shut it all out: the drama, the pressure, the stress. Just block it all out and stay focused on one thing goal at a time. Take year 12 one exam/assignment at a time and then it won’t seem so intimidating and will be over before you know it. Do your future self a favour and try not to overthink everything. They’ll thank you for it.

 So that concludes my advice for starting year 12. This is the advice I follow myself and wanted to share it with the HSC community.