Fear chills your bones when that one thought frolics back into your life: back to school.

If you are in Year 12 this year, you’re probably freaking out over rumours of the terrifying year ahead of you. Don’t. Stop for a second, stretch and breathe. Some of us are here as living proof that Year 12 won’t kill you. Read this guide on how to journey through this rollercoaster of a year.


#1. Nurture good study habits

This is the best life hack for the year ahead. The number one reason for the hate towards Year 12 is the stress. With solid and efficient study habits you’ll be cruising on a balanced school life. Being organised is something you must not avoid – if you don’t want to have all-nighters every night.


#2. Get thinking about your future

By the end of this year, you will be faced with many questions about where you want your life to lead you, so get yourself prepared. Simply heading into Year 13 may not be the path for you. You may be considering leaving school at the end of this year. You may even be right on track to where you want to go. Make sure that what you do this year is helping you reach your goals for the future. Set goals that you can achieve, and keep them floating at the back of your mind through the year.

If you need to keep on top of your academics, prioritise your study. If you’re planning to stay in high school until Year 13, think about your subject choices for next year. If you’re planning to go to university after Year 13, look into requirements for university. For more advice about subject choices, university and careers visit CareersNZ, talk to your school’s careers advisor or chat to a teacher. There are heaps of resources and people out there to help!


#3. Don’t forget to breathe

I know from personal experience that nothing can get worse than drowning in schoolwork. The most common piece of advice you will get for Year 12 is “don’t stress out.” However, it’s pretty much inevitable – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Nurture your well-being by giving yourself regular breaks. Save at least an hour for yourself each day to put your mind off school. Don’t study or do homework an hour before you get to bed. Get to bed early. Stay healthy. Your well-being will plummet if you don’t allow yourself to breathe every once in a while. If you’re not healthy, your grades will be affected too.


#4. Stay social

Although it’s highly advised to limit the hours you spend on social media, there’s no good in cutting off all your social ties either. Don’t forget to hang out and laugh with your friends from time to time. Humans are social beings, so give yourself time to interact with others. Whether it’s joining a club, spending a weekend with friends, or simply being at the table for dinner with the fam every night, stay sociable. Always ask for help if you need it – talk to your parents, a reliable friend, or teacher.


#5. Embrace every experience but never over-commit

Year 12 is a starting point into adulthood, so make the most of all the opportunities you are offered. Carpe diem! Get involved in out-of-school and extra-curricular activities. However, don’t over-commit – learn to say no when there’s too much on your plate. There’s no point in building up stress in an already hectic year.


#6. Do your best, forgive your failures, and move on

Always give your best throughout this year and the years to come. Think like an optimist and work hard to achieve whatever it is you hope to accomplish. However, you’re still growing up and learning, so don’t punish yourself because of a low grade. ‘Failing’ is only a stepping stone to success. True failure is always holding onto the past and never rising from the ashes. Everyone is destined to succeed in different ways, so always strive for your best, forgive your failures and keep on going.


#7. Stay motivated

Motivation can be difficult to find when you need to complete that chapter in your Chemistry textbook, write that English essay due tomorrow, and finish that paper for Calculus. Remember that it may not be easy, but in the end it will be worth it. If you’re struggling to stay motivated, get a piece of paper and write down 10 reasons why you need to study and persevere through Year 12. Have this where you’ll see it every day. Finding motivation varies for every person, but by setting your sights on where you want to be in the future, you may just find that little boost you need.


Just like a rollercoaster, Year 12 can be terrifying, awesome, or both. Only you can decide how you want your year to play out. This year is only one in your life, and anything can happen. Despite the cautionary tales of those who have survived Year 12, there is no guarantee that you will endure the same struggles as they have. You may even find Year 12 a breeze! No matter what, stay calm, be smart, and be ready for some hard work. Most importantly, remember that you can do this.