It’s your final year- the year where everyone tells you to ramp it up and give it all you’ve got. But that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your co-curriculars and other responsibilities in order to reap the fullest rewards by the end of year. In fact, from my own experience and the many experiences of my high-achieving friends, in our senior year, it seems that spending more of your afternoons and mornings away from the textbooks and syllabi will actually do you and your grades better.
Now let me reinforce that anecdotal point by saying that many of my friends and I had all spent 5 or more afternoons and mornings doing sport, music, drama co-curriculars or worked – and all either got an ATAR of 85 or higher and/or early entry. While this may just sound like a flex, please give me a chance to elaborate.
If it weren’t for our involvement in all of our extra curriculars, I reckon we wouldn’t have been as ‘successful’ in all our school endeavours. Let me break it down for you into 5 ways it’ll give you the boost you’re gonna need in Year 12 (and afterwards, too.)
What (or who) pulls you through
It’s inevitable: if you do want to do well this year, you’re gonna feel stress from the pure desire to do so. But having friends who are in it with you, will already give you that relief from the unnecessary pressure you’re feeling from the assessments looming at the end of each term. Spending more of your time making memories, having adventures and laughs and exploring new things and learning new skills, will give your experiences that you couldn’t ever get from a textbook.
At the end of the day, when you graduate and look back on what you remember from high school, you won’t reminisce the 3rd syllabus dot point, or question 17 of the 5th exam. But you will remember the one time you and your friends were messing around during practice and somebody split their pants (it’ll happen to at least one, of you, I can guarantee.) I’d say that in most cases, the activity itself won’t be what pulls you through this year, it’s gonna be the people that you went through it with.
More stress = Less stress??
Obviously, none of this advice will be of any use if you drag yourself into something you don’t actually wanna do. With passion and interest comes enjoyment. And with that comes investment into whatever it is you’re doing, whether it be the next match, performance, rush-hour shift or volunteering event. If something means something to you, then the thought of making sure you excel will – surprise, surprise – breed stress.
But fear not! Stress, to an extent, can be used as fuel to excel in what you’re doing, because it grows your determination and commitment. As long as you manage your time properly and allocate when you’re going to be doing the right amount of study, this newly added stress will not hinder your performance in the HSC. I won’t go into time management for this blog, but all I’ll say now that it’s definitely possible.
Bringing yourself into environments outside of the classroom where you are so determined to do well, will prevent you from fixating on your exams and wasting your energy worrying and over-working pieces of content. Instead you can use that energy to be productive in other ways. By allowing your brain to lift itself off of the syllabus for hours at a time, you can come back to your desk with a refreshed mind and a clearer -and less stressed- head.
Now don’t worry, the school year won’t feel like a continuous rush to the end. There will be slow burns, boring classes, dribs and drabs where your motivation to keep going will falter. A period could feel like a day, and a week could feel like a month. Giving yourself a regular time in the week that you can look forward to can help you stay energised and positive through the inevitable dead periods. Like I said before, time management is key, but keeping yourself busy enough outside of school will keep you on your toes without burning out during the busy times.
Becoming a desired Employee / Student / Individual
I’m sure you’ve heard from career advisors, teachers and maybe your own parents, that they’re shaping you to become well-rounded individuals who are ready for the real world. Whether it’s intentional or not, getting out of the classroom or library will give you the opportunity to develop essential kills you can’t learn at school.
As a senior, your involvement in co-curriculars will help you with your leadership, time-management, social skills and more. Having experiences that you can then display to future employers or universities will make you a cut above the rest and show them, before they even interview you, that you’re highly capable and well-versed in many aspects of your life: something that a number or grade could never say for you. Stuff like this is what will make you an appealing candidate for scholarships and early entry for uni, which if successful will give you so much relief and security before you even start your HSC exams.
Even if uni isn’t your end goal, whatever you do decide to embark on after you graduate, there will definitely be wafers of advice that you can pocket from your extra-curriculars that will be helpful as you enter the “real world”.
There’s more to it!
And on that note, the knowledge and experiences you gain outside of school will remind you or help you realise that the HSC isn’t the end of the world. You’ll be hearing that phrase quite a lot this year, because it’s true. There is so much more to life than exams and lessons. While you should always try your best in everything you do, it doesn’t mean you need to let go of things you enjoy – because that isn’t your best.
All in all, as long as you pick wisely and don’t overdo it, your co/extra-currics will help you in more ways that you would notice or imagine. You don’t need to already be a genius at school for this to work for you – success is there, you just need to go for it with all you’ve got. And never limit yourself! While my experience may be limited to sport and performing arts, there’s an infinite number of out-of-school activities that you could definitely get into, even if you got started now.