Okay everyone, it would seem that it is that time of year again when Christmas and New Year’s Eve sales have become replaced with back to school supplies and uniforms. Everyone is checking off last minute items on their book lists or buying new work outfits. And we’re all just preparing for that first dreadful morning that will be the beginning of semester or the work year.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably already started the year by the time this goes up.
Gone are the days where sleeping in till midday was the norm, and staying up late to binge watch on Netflix was acceptable. Lounging on the beach, attending shows or festivals or simply sitting around at home doing nothing will now be a luxury we will no longer have time for. For it will be replaced with early mornings, homework, studying or one work project after the other.
It’s also come to that time of year where New Year’s resolutions start slipping away as they are replaced with those other stresses and anxieties to worry about. It can be pretty tricky to stick to our promises once we no longer have the comfort of a flexible and leisurely schedule which is why I won’t be surprised once gym membership begins to drop again.
Don’t worry, I’m not judging you. I’m the same. Not with the gym obviously, but other things.
I knew I wanted to write about this time of year since I it would be affecting everyone right about now, including myself. Though I’m dreading going back to school as much as the next person, it was very hard to come up with an angle that wasn’t just me complaining.
To give you some context, though I am 18 going on 19 this year, I am in fact going into year 12… for the second time. After my jaw surgery early last year, I had to take a big chunk of time off school. This meant that by the time I got back, there was no way I would be able to catch up in all five of my subjects, especially when I was still on medication around then. That’s when I made the reluctant decision to cut my VCE year in half; doing two subjects that year and three this year. Though it certainly makes the workload much more bearable, I am now faced with the reality that all my friends have graduated and I am starting the year completely alone.
It feels a lot like going to a new school. I don’t know anyone in the year levels below mine so I have to essentially start fresh in the friends-making department. Which in high school, is not the easiest thing to do.
Back to this post, I was thinking that since I have essentially been through all six years of high school (13 years of schooling all up) it would make sense for me to give other people advice on starting school or going into a new year. But to be perfectly honest I don’t feel like I am yet qualified. Because though I have been taught and leant a lot of lessons, even now, I don’t think all of them have been fully understood and consolidated. I feel like to give advice on something (most of the time) you will have had to live through it. That is, you’ve seen the other side. In this case, I just haven’t finished school yet.
But like I said, I have been taught many lessons and tips throughout my school life and sure, I can share those with you. You and me both can work on them together.
My first tip is pretty standard for high school students and I reckon this one I can definitely vouch for in that I know I have seen a difference between doing it and not doing it – write shit down! excuse my French. But seriously write EVERYTHING down. I swear it is a lifesaver! If you go to a school like mine, you will probably get a diary but if your school doesn’t give you one, buy one. Write down notes, reminders, events, timetables, assessments (exams and SACs) and most importantly homework (including due dates).
I used to think that because I was someone with a fairly impeccable memory that I would remember everything I had to do from day to day. However even the people with the best memory will forget things like specific homework tasks. Especially when you have multiple subjects to remember for. Just write everything down whether you think you will remember or not. it will help you stay organised and on top of your work.
Another tip for studying that high school students should remember is – Write, don’t type. This may sound like more of preference thing but one of my psychology teachers told me that there is real scientific evidence behind this. When studying for a test where you have to memorise large blocks of information, it’s important that when making notes, you write them out by hand rather than typing it up on a computer. I’ve done it both ways and I know that I did better on a test in remember information that I wrote myself than in a test where my notes were typed. There’s just something about our own handwriting that is much easier to commit to long term memory. This works particularly well for a test whereby you also answer questions by hand.
My final ‘tip’ would be to – READ! Read all handouts and read the bloody textbooks. This is one tip I STILL struggle to uphold and my dad is constantly nagging me for it. But truth be told it is one of the most important things to remember to do. Whether you’re preparing for class or studying for a test, if you nothing else, read the text book and make notes (even if the teacher hasn’t told you to). My dad also always says; ‘they [the teachers] can’t ask you anything that’s not in the textbook’. Most of your questions can be answered using the textbook and making notes will help consolidate what you’ve learnt into your long-term memory.
Look at me using ‘consolidate’ and ‘long-term memory’. That the psych class coming out!
In the way of advice, this is where its gets tricky because these are less measurable things.
Firstly. I think that school should be 90% work (the other 10% is left for friends and having fun). That is remember that everything you do in school contributes to your future, (further study, careers, jobs) which is why you need to focus and work hard. particularly if you have a certain goal in mind. The only way you will achieve anything in life is to work for it. it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what school you go to. You decide what your future is going to look like and you put in the time and effort towards working for that. pay attention in class, write the notes, do the homework, study for the test, participate in extra curriculars if it will help towards your particular goal. Go what you’ve gotta do and do it well!
In contrast, another thing I’ve been warned about is not working yourself too hard. if you’re anything like me, studying will often take over your life or you will work yourself into stress and anxiety. This is not healthy. It is important to identify when it is time to take a break. Remember to eat and drink. Make yourself a cuppa. A tip I learnt was to study in intervals (eg; work for a solid hour and then take a 15-minute break before continuing). And maybe even reward yourself after completing an assessment task or exam. It’s important to find a balance between ‘work and play’ so it is in fact okay to go out with friends every once in a while, just to get out of the house.
The final piece of honest advice I can give you is to not put so much pressure on this phase of your life. Because that’s all it is… a phase. As teenagers, we tend to think that when something seems difficult or depressing or too big to deal with, it will never go away. We think this is the worst of the worst and it couldn’t possibly get better. Well I’m told is does. And though I do not have any proof as yet I will continue to hold on to that little piece of hope for as long as possible.
Whether you’re feeling lonely or depressed. Whether you’re having relationship troubles or friendship fallouts. Whether you find the work to be piling up or the exams to cause you so much anxiety that you forget how to breath. It’s important to stop and take a deep breath in these times of unrest. Remember school is only a short period in the scheme of your whole life which is still ahead of you. There is really no need to put so much pressure on yourself right now. If you want something you will find a way to make it happen. In the meantime, avoid the drama, live in the moment and enjoy yourself. Things can always get better, just let life play out the way it’s supposed to.
One day you will look back on this whole experience and merely laugh (if anything) at the memories you made before moving on with the rest of your life, wherever it takes you.
Have a lovely day! xx