First off, congratulations – you made it! You are now an official survivor of Year 12. Give yourself a pat on the back. You made it through arguably one of the most challenging years of school.

Now, it’s the last lap of the race to graduation. Although it’s something to celebrate, you’ll come to realise that Year 13 is filled with hurdles – some of which you may not notice until it’s too late.

No need to worry. With the help of some Year 13 veterans, here are some words from the wise to help you out this final year.

#1. Know what you’ll be doing next year – before next year

University, work, gap year, volunteering… whatever it is you plan to do next year, make sure you’re well informed about it.

For most, Year 13 is the final platform before you enter ‘real life’. This reality comes with heaps of responsibilities, requirements, costs, and tedious applications. Leaving it all for Term 4 (or even Term 3) – the busiest time of the year with exams, tournaments and events towered on your plate – will only make things tougher than they need to be.

Make it clear what your goals are. It’ll help with getting things done effectively and efficiently.

Still not sure what you’ll be doing in a year’s time? Don’t stress! Keep your options open so you don’t limit yourself once you leave school.

#2. Be prepared for more responsibilities – but don’t let them weigh you down

As a Year 13 student, you are automatically a ‘leader’ of the school. Whether you’re a badge leader or not.

You’ll probably find yourself being one of the first to be given tasks for your major school events or school activities. It may feel like these responsibilities begin to weigh you down as the year goes on; remember if anything feels like it’s too much to handle, speaking to someone is your first step to feeling better. Whether it’s a counsellor, friend, teacher or family member, get your worries off your chest and let someone help you work out a solution.

Be prepared to be asked to take on more tasks, but be prepared to say no if it’s too much to carry. Saying no is totally OK!

#3. Keep cool and be a legend friend

You’ll find that you and your peers will be off doing all sorts of things; frantically cramming, applying for things, doing leadership tasks, or just plain being exhausted. Everyone might be a bit high strung at various points in the year, so it’s not unexpected that a few tensions and conflicts may arise.

You might also come across Year 13 tensions about leadership and responsibilities. Someone doesn’t like how that person became this leader, someone didn’t do their task, someone doesn’t want to support that leader… Come on, team, we’re all in this together!

Everything’s already stressful enough; no need to sprinkle salty problems on top of it all. Be a good friend in all the tough times. Don’t hold grudges; keep things cool. If anyone is acting uncool, just remember that they may be stressed or have personal things going on that you don’t know about; be compassionate like you hope others would be for you.

#4. Master the art of balance

Keep yourself healthy by taking regular breaks (no, I don’t mean procrastinating), eating healthy meals and sleeping well before midnight (seriously).

Keep your lifestyle balanced. Maintain the balance by estahlishing good study habits. If you were one of those students who found Year 12 so stressful that you got an average of three hours of sleep per night for at least a week, and at one point even started to hear the birds chirping and saw the sun rise (e.g. me), then good study habits this year are a total must.

#5. Save your cash

When the year begins to wind down with leavers’ gear, graduation merchandise, balls, leavers’ dinners, gifts and more, you’ll find money will be flying out of your bank account like your hours of lost sleep. Saving as much as possible now will pay off.

#6. Apply, apply, apply!

Year 13, AKA the Year of Applications. You’ll be applying for university courses, student loans, student allowances, extra-curricular opportunities, scholarships, all the above, and even more.

If you don’t know what any of those terms mean, then make sure you ask ASAP (and stay tuned to TEARAWAY as we explain!). Make applications earlier in the year, even if you aren’t too sure on what you’ll be doing the following year. Better to apply early then cancel the application than apply late and miss out.

Application tips:

  • University applications, student loans and allowances require a lot of documents which will need to be verified. The easiest option is to take these documents to your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau and get a Justice of the Peace to certify them.
  • Scholarships will often ask for references; people such as teachers who will support your application attesting to why you deserve the scholarship. You’ll need to ask these people to write things such as reference letter well before the due date. If you ask them too late, it’s basically like you’re asking them to write a last-minute essay that they don’t even need to do. Would you love it if your teacher did this to you?
  • If an application involves money, then expect a long application process.

#7. Keep the motivation train going

You’ll probably find the Year 13s complaining in exhaustion about how they are “soooo over school.”

Trust me, the fiery desire to escape the routine of high school is REAL. With seemingly billions of assessments, commitments and responsibilities, motivation can become a rare commodity. When final exams arrive, you’ll probably be ripping out your hair with impatience, wanting to get outta there ASAP and inhale pure freedom.

However, it’s towards the end of the year that things really start to matter, so stay calm and keep the train of motivation chugging along.

#8. Gratitude makes you a great dude

In tough times, you will always need help from the people around you. Your teachers, classmates, mentors, friends, and family will be there to keep you afloat. Don’t take their help for granted; be a good human and show that you appreciate all the work they’ve put into getting you where you want to be.

Thank people. It’s never too late to say thank you.

#9. Do everything you want to do

You will be shocked by how quickly the days of Year 13 pass by. Make sure you’ve done what you’ve wanted to do – aimed for those academic goals, join that club – so you’ll leave those doors without regrets.

Just like the final episode of a TV show, or the final chapter of a novel, Year 13 will be an absolutely exciting (and probably emotional) year. You will learn and experience all sorts of things. Don’t be disappointed if by the end of Year 13 you find that your high school life isn’t quite the ideal experience you were hoping for. Every experience is different, with its own challenges and successes.

Remember: It’s not just how you start, but also how you finish that matters. From beginning to end, keep things positive, keep being you, and be ready to put in the hard yards.

Victory at the end of this race to graduation awaits. You can do it.

How are you feeling about school this year? Comment below or email us, anytime! [email protected]