Sometimes we can't help but measure our worth against other people's achievements. This wise young person encourages you to focus on your own goals.
Remember that the HSC is just one year out of your whole life, and that exams are a measure of what you learnt at school not a measure of you as a person.
The HSC, who came up with the concept? It certainly wasn't a 17-year-old, because anyone that age would know that there is no way you'd want to sit through something so stressful and ultimately pointless. But it's part of going to school nowadays and something you have to cope with and get through.
Not because I planned it that way, or that I wanted it that way, my final year of school turned out to be the most complex year of my life so far. Having dropped out of school half way through Year 10, I suddenly changed my mind and decided to finish my education. So I started up at a new school, one a little more sympathetic to my needs than the previous.
At my new school I was assigned a guardian, his role was to make sure I got through the year in a reasonable state. The first thing we had to look at was my schooling hours. There were two considerations, one being that I started to get panicky if I spent more than a few hours around large groups of people, and the second being that I had a two year old at home to look after. So we agreed that I could go to school for three hours each morning and do the rest of the work at home.
Up until this point I'd never had structure or stability in my life and was determined to find it. The easiest way to start was by developing a routine, so, with my guardian we wrote a list of everything I had to do on a daily and weekly basis. This included things like going to school, school work at home, visiting my parents at home, seeing doctors, rehearsals, being with my son and time for myself. Then on a huge sheet of cardboard we made a daily timetable, and listed everything I had to do. Throughout the chaos during the year it helped to be able to have some structure to fall back on.
One of the things that we also decided I needed was a regular time to study with other friends. So three nights a week I met with four guys in my class at the town library. It was so good to be able to ask questions without feeling stupid, and often the best teachers are people your own age. Explaining stuff was also a really good way to learn things for yourself and helped review what you knew and didn't.
It may seem like I'm saying the HSC was a breeze and totally positive experience. I'd be lying if I said that, it was a hard slog and it wasn't much fun. There was very little time for me, and a lot of things I loved had to be sacrificed in order to get anywhere. It's not an experience I'd ever want to go back and do again, but by the same token I'm kind of glad I can say that I got through it.
I guess I was lucky because I could walk into my final year at school with the attitude that this was just an experience I wanted to be able to say that I'd achieved something. I did the HSC to learn more, and hopefully become a better person. Not having huge unrealistic goals or pressures made it much less daunting. I did set goals for myself, but they only challenged me to a level I knew I could handle.
Remember that the HSC is just one year out of your whole life, and that exams are a measure of what you learnt at school not a measure of you as a person. Setting goals applicable to you, not your parents or friends is also important. Being prepared and organised and always having a plan B can make the difference between a positive and a negative final year at school.