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Don’t give up! How to overcome challenges in Year 12

Life isn’t always kind and 2020 was a perfect example of how life’s unpredictability can turn your world upside-down. When your everyday circumstances are tough, the stress of Year 12 and pressure to receive a good ATAR can culminate as an added weight – one that threatens to break you before exams even roll around. Even at life’s lowest points, when giving up is tempting and working hard seems impossible, remember the power of choice.

This is a concept that Beau Arnfield, who graduated Year 12 in 2014, recognises well. ‘I had two options; let these roadblocks get in my way or face the challenges head on and learn to adapt, innovate and learn,’ he says. Beau, who completed a Bachelor of Arts/Law at Deakin University, shares how it’s possible to get in to your dream degree – even when your journey is a little tougher than everyone else’s.

It’s OK to be selfish

‘Year 12 is one of those years everyone talks about marks and entry requirements, and often you find yourself in a bubble of discouragement thinking you may not be as good as others,’ Beau says. These words resound with every Year 12 student, but Beau explains this mindset is completely false. Year 12 is not the time to focus on others, it’s time to start making decisions for yourself.

Working out what you want to achieve, and taking measured steps to attain that, may go against what you’re used to in high school. You’ve been guided by teachers and friends for six years, but you’re about to step into the next chapter of your life, and it’s important to recognise your own value.

‘If you spend too much time worrying about others, you will begin to conform to living their dream rather than striving to achieve yours,’ Beau says. ‘Allow yourself to be a little selfish – do what works for you and what you know will give you the best opportunity to work towards your goals.’

Reaching goals is a marathon, not a sprint

When it comes to working towards your goals, there’s never going to be a foolproof trick that works for everyone. But one thing that Beau advises is to set short term, or micro goals. ‘They keep you on task and by breaking larger tasks into smaller accomplishments, you can create a fantastic sense of accomplishment as you tick items off your list. It’s a great way to stay really motivated in the hardest of times,’ he says.

Another way to work towards your own success is to create study groups with people who share your passion. ‘If you’re surrounding yourself with others who are just as passionate as you are; not only will you gain the benefits of understanding insights into a subject you may not have thought of, you will also be able to teach your acquired knowledge to others in the group as well,’ Beau says. Claudio G Cortese, a professor of organisational psychology states in his research that teaching is an important opportunity to ‘recognise one’s own ignorance, and thereby rendering oneself open to the possibility of learning’.

Adapt to face challenges

In Year 12 Beau faced challenges including divorce, difficult family environments, two surgical operations, family deaths and travel, but says ‘what was important and crucial to my study success was to always be able to adapt’.

A famous quote from Jimmy Dean states: ‘I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.’ Beau says of his own experience, ‘By embracing these indifferences, and seeing the positives in a non-ideal situation, I was able to thrive and make the most of my slightly skewed journey.’ By adopting a positive and adaptable mindset, he achieved the goals he set.

'What was important and crucial to my study success throughout Year 12 was to always be able to adapt.'

Beau Arnfield,
Graduate, Deakin University

Your ATAR isn’t your only pathway

Unfortunately, there is such an emphasis placed on ATARs that it’s easy to become discouraged in Year 12 if you aren’t performing as well as you want to. But no matter what happens when you finally get your results, you should know that there are pathways to get into your dream course.

‘If you do not achieve the ATAR you wanted, it is absolutely not the end of the world and your chances for success and happiness have most certainly not been curtailed,’ Beau says. Through a special consideration application, known as SEAS, he was able to have his ATAR boosted, giving him the opportunity to start his tertiary education at Deakin’s Geelong campus. He later got a transfer from Geelong to Burwood. Using special consideration, and transferring between campuses, are two common pathways students take to navigate into their university course of choice.

Other pathways include transferring courses – from one with a lower ATAR to your ideal course – starting at TAFE and using it as a stepping stone into university, or completing an associate degree as an entry pathway. There are multitudes of ways to succeed, and as Beau says: ‘Year 12 is not the be-all-and-end-all of existence, it is the end of an era that is nothing more than the blink of an eye.’

‘Find your passion, do what you need to do and embrace the journey and you will succeed – trust me.’

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