Slowing down at school

Story By: Emily Emily

Sometimes, at university, school or work, we take too much on and are unable to give everything equal attention. Read how Emily learned to be realistic about her workload during her final years at school, making some difficult decisions that ultimately benefited her in the end. 

Aerial view of students writing worksheets
Ability is nothing if it isn't in your heart. I lacked motivation and direction.
I wouldn't say I've always enjoyed school, but it had always been fairly easy. The usual routine was to show up for school, complete assignments, do tests, get decent marks.

Yet suddenly, I hit VCE. The final years of schooling in Victoria. It had not occurred to me that it was going to be an agonising struggle. Sure, I had been almost a straight A student for ages, why would it change? It did. There were a lot of reasons for this. All of a sudden the work was heaps harder, and at home a lot of other problems seemed to be taking up much of my thinking space, instead of school. But the main part of this was that personally I wasn't wanting to put in all the effort just for myself. Ability is nothing if it isn't in your heart. I lacked motivation and direction. I had come to a point where I questioned what I really was wanting to get out of VCE. Quickly, I wasn't the top student anymore. 

The fall from the top

I became very disconnected in classes, which meant just to keep up, I had to work even harder each night. Something which really disinterested me. I quickly became resentful and angry too, about my situation. Wagging classes was a big thing. I thought it was plain not fair. My four years at high school of being "the top" had not prepared me for anything.

It took a while, but after a maths teacher speaking to me, I began to realise that maybe it wasn't the best idea for me to be taking 7 advanced subjects. Yeah, there are heaps of students that can handle it (good for them!) but I learned there are many who can't. Dropping some subjects was best for me.

It took some strength to see things differently, and realise that doing this would not decrease my value as a human being, as I initially thought. Actually, it turned out to be a really great thing. I thought that it would be like admitting I was a failure, but when it came round to dropping them, I felt that I had actually made a decision in my life, rather than letting other people do that for me.

Taking control


I was taking control, and part of this was about seeing there was so much more outside the usual text-book learning. I got involved with heaps of other things outside of school too (including ReachOut.com), which I found more enjoyable and personally fulfilling. Doing this allowed me to create a great friendship network of people that I considered to be real friends, rather than people I could just associate with in class. This strangely allowed me to concentrate more when I was actually in school, to achieve better.

If you find yourself in a similar position to me, don't be afraid to consider dropping a subject, or at least talk to a teacher or careers counsellor about how you are feeling. You won't be seen as a failure. I sure realised it is not always 'laziness' and 'stupidity' which keeps people from achieving the top scores. If you're worried about parents, ask the school to talk with them. Most schools are very accommodating- they only want you to do the best you can to. They will have helped many others in your position, and might help you make everything a little more enjoyable.

Last reviewed: 04 September, 2015
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