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How to set successful goals in VCE

Your years completing VCE can contain some of the most memorable, yet stressful experiences of your life. From 18th birthdays and getting your first car, to exams, SACS and stressing about your ATAR, those two years are sure to be eventful to say the least.

It is because of this that being able to set successful goals is important. If you’re like the average VCE student, you may not be very experienced in determining what makes a goal successful or not.

With this in mind, we picked the brain of Dr Matthew Thomas, Deakin’s Course Director of the Master of Teaching (Secondary). He answered some of the burning questions you may have about how successful goal setting can be to help you soar through VCE.

How important is it to have clear goals set out in VCE?

‘Do you need to have a goal? Yes. Do you need to be overcome by it? No. VCE is a marathon of being tested and the stakes are high.’

So how do you recommend setting goals that are realistic?

‘What you need to do is set goals that are maybe just a little above what you think you can manage if you put in hard work. Don’t do it for your mum or dad or because your brother got a great score, you have to do it for yourself. I think this is the key.

‘Organise yourself in a way that works for you and stick to it; don’t all of a sudden try and turn into some other student. You got here by being you, finish it by being the best of you.’

VCE can be a long two years. What’s the best way of setting long term goals?

‘The trick to a long-term goal is to break it down so it doesn’t seem insurmountable. Take a 1200- or 1500-word essay: instead of thinking about it as 1200 words think of it as 12 essays of 100 words. You can write 100 words in about five minutes without trying very hard at all.

‘Alternatively, if you sit down to write 1200 or 1500 words you will probably just stare at the page and get upset and that’s a waste of your time. Break the big tasks down into little bits and you’ll be kicking goals in no time.’

Do you recommend using tools like diaries?

‘If you are not using any form of diary or calendar then you definitely need to get something to organise yourself. I hate traditional diaries (if you are anything like me you are probably using a Google calendar or an iCal anyway), but I know schools love them because they are a good way to organise yourself and put all your information in.

‘If you are scheduling in time off that is a really good idea – as much as I would love to tell you that working in front of Netflix is totally doable, it really isn’t. With things like that, set time aside to actually enjoy them.’

'Break the big tasks down into little bits and you’ll be kicking goals in no time.'

Dr Matthew Thomas,
Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University

How do you come back from falling short of your goals?

‘We’re not perfect and will stuff things up, such as not reaching a planned goal. What matters is not the falling over, it’s about how you deal with it and how quickly you get back up. It’s okay to be upset and feel it’s unfair because you tried, but this is temporary.

‘If you want something, you need to want it more than the next person otherwise they will take it from you. Don’t quit, learn from it. Quitting is forever, the best students I’ve ever had make a choice, ask how to improve, and become more than they could imagine.’

What are some final tips on conquering Year 12?

‘You need to sleep, you need to eat (real food) and you need to exercise. Have high expectations of yourself, your teachers and your school. Be grateful and appreciative to those that have gotten you here, have fun, know your weaknesses and maintain balance in your life.’

Need more tips on VCE? Find out how to ace Year 12.

About to finish Year 12 and exploring your next steps? Find courses

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Dr Matthew Thomas
Dr Matthew Thomas

Course Director, Master of Teaching (Secondary), Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University

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