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Reflecting upon my last year of school

By Kartiya Ilardo in VCE
7th of January 2020
Reflection on the final year of school

Come to think of it, Year 12 may have been the best year of school. Yes, there was a ton of homework and tears. But not in any other year have I grown and learnt so much about the world and myself.


Finding the spark

At first I was extremely terrified and overwhelmed with the concept of remembering every single bit of knowledge about the subject throughout the year in order to ace exams. This fear was pretty consistent throughout Year 12 actually. All I could envision was my brain just spilling out all the information it could not retain. How was I supposed to remember everything?!

Term 1 and 2 were quite tough, and a lot of my classmates (including me) were not getting the best of grades. I remember heaps even dropping out. It was hard to watch and endure, especially because some of these people were your friends and you watched them grow throughout school.

These low grades really dampened my self-esteem. However, doing a Year 12 subject in Year 11 taught me something invaluable. In Year 11, dwelling on the loss of a few marks was too common. I then realised wallowing was only going to decrease my grades further, so I used that low grade to motivate me to study more. I found my key to studying. That spark which pushes you to do one more hour of study when you think you can do no more. I was lucky to find this out in Year 11, because it helped me along when my grades were low in Year 12.


“Find that spark which pushes you to do one more hour of study when you think you can do no more.”


Finding the joy

The school year was a little over half-way and my grades were improving. They definitely were not perfect, but they were on their way to being perfect and I think that was really comforting to see. It was at this point when I realised I needed to enjoy studying in order to fully reap the benefits. Further Maths was my most disliked subject, no wonder I got the lowest study score for it. I found I studied more for Psychology and English because I simply enjoyed the content. The more time and joy I put into those subjects, the better my grades were.

Somehow, I needed to find the fun in math.

And so I did, although it was during the exam study period and my SAC grades could not be salvaged, I found some sort of joy in matrices and finance, especially when I understood and answered questions correctly. It was like positive reinforcement for studying – little psych reference 😉 – and it definitely worked for me.

The ease to study kind of snowballed from here. I had just been to Open Days for various universities. Before that, my mind was set on a Fine Arts degree which required no ATAR. Now that I look back on it, when I told people what I was going to study I felt kind of disheartened; I wasn’t proud or happy to announce my future plans – it was sort of a distant response. The Open Days though, literally opened the world for me. I found out what I really wanted to do and that became the strongest motivation to study.


“They definitely were not perfect, but they were on their way to being perfect and I think that was really comforting to see.”


Defying “impossible”

I needed to get into this course, my heart was in it so my head had to follow. It was my biggest goal and every moment, at school or at home studying, I had that goal in sight. That purpose was so strong; it was the light at the end of the dark tunnel. If you set your intentions and do everything you can to get to where you really want to be, nothing can stop you. Some people may say you cannot get there, these ‘people’ may even be you. Challenge these comments, they are only there to put you off your dreams.

As I delved deeper into what else would help me academically, I kind of had this philosophical moment where it seemed everything had come crashing into alignment. Nothing is hard. Nothing at all is difficult or hard. Rather, some things take more time and practice to master. Nothing is impossible. Everything comes down to time and effort. Think of the most talented pianist. Is what they do hard or impossible? Not really, it just takes a lot of effort and time. They once couldn’t play the piano, they just practiced. I realised this, and it kind of became clear that all I needed to do was study and practice. I knew that with every minute spent studying, there was some progress being made.


“Nothing is hard. Nothing at all is difficult or hard. Rather, some things take more time and practice to master.”


Defying regret

I always saw problems as just one big and difficult challenge. But one day, one of my favourite teachers told me something invaluable. He said to break down the whole problem. See how it is made up of little and fairly simple tasks. This was amazing! It kind of gave me an attitude where I thought everything was achievable. So to apply this to year 12, we see our subject and all its content as one big thing. You say with panic, “I have to learn all of psychology by the end of the year!” How daunting does that sound? Instead, calmly tell yourself, “I can study mental health today, stress tomorrow…” and so on. It really does help you along and before you know it, you have learnt everything!

As Year 12 came to the end, such a bittersweet episode of life, I always told myself to end with no regrets. No matter my ATAR, I wanted to say to myself, I did my bit, I have no regrets. That was what I also told myself when studying felt like pulling a heavy truck with just my teeth (people can actually do that!). This way, I could never doubt or ask myself, “what if I had studied just a bit longer that time?” I did all I could and that I think is what matters the most. If my ATAR really reflects my effort, then I am set.

My ATAR was not perfect, but it got me into my course and that really is all that matters. I have this weird kind of love for those imperfect four little numbers.

In the end, I can say 90 percent or maybe all of my success in Year 12 came down to how I thought about and reacted to what life threw at me.

To all upcoming year 12s, enjoy your last year of school, leave with no regrets and find that motivation which makes you want to study. Good Luck 🙂