Ask A Teacher (Student Edition): I’m In Grade 12 And Everyone Says This Is Make-Or-Break. Is it?

student ed

No.

It’s not.

What everyone should be telling you is this:

If you want to go to uni, in particular, doing well in senior (Grades 11 and 12 for non-Australians out there) is important because of several reasons:

  1. It makes it easier to get into the course you want
  2. It means that you’re more likely to get into the uni you want
  3. And it reduces your chances that if you get a lower entry-level score than you wanted, you’re less likely to have to start a different degree to later change into the degree you actually

So, in that regard, it really does benefit you if you take your senior years seriously and perform well on all of your exams and assignments. If you’re not sure about whether you want to go to uni or not, it’s still a good idea, because having to do the entrance exams after your high-school results have ‘expired’ is a lot fucking harder, and there’s a likely chance you’ll be assessed on things that weren’t your ‘majors’ in high school, so if you don’t like English/Math/Science, you just have to fucking deal.

(That doesn’t mean it can’t be done – I know plenty of people who have successfully done so. What I’m saying is that it’s easier to use the help of your teachers and your sort-of free education if you’re not sure, because it’s harder after.)

If you don’t plan to go to uni, unless you already have a guaranteed trade (so, usually one you’re already involved in and have a contract so that you know it’s a guarantee, not just someone’s word), you will be likely going up against hundreds, if not thousands, of people who covet the same job you do. That means – and again, especially in more rural and remote areas – that your report comments (and even your grades) can be influential in whether or not you can get a job. References are essential in getting a job, and chances are, as someone who is in high school or has just graduated, a lot of the references you’re going to rely on are from your teachers. If your report comment section has words like ‘team player’, ‘works well’, ‘great communicator’ listed, and someone else’s has ‘does not always engage in team activities’, ‘needs to focus more’, ‘improvement is required in X’, what reference sounds better? Because it’s not all about your grades – it’s about those comments. If you got a D in a subject, but your teacher notes that ‘you were doing the best you could’ and that you ‘work diligently’, that can signify to a potential employer that you’re a person they want, because maybe you suck at said subject, but you’re willing to work your ass off to improve.

That’s what we should be telling you. That yes, you do need to take your senior years seriously, that your grades and behaviour do matter, and for many, can mean the difference between doing what they want to do and doing what they have to do, but it isn’t make-or-break.

In my opinion, the entire educational system needs an overhaul. We are teaching things that are becoming less and less relevant, and less and less useful for the jobs younger generations will be entering – and yet, we’re teaching as if little has changed since the Industrial Revolution. We don’t accommodate for students who don’t learn in a traditional classroom setting, and we’re focused on results, not learning. Trust me: I’ve taught more than one student who couldn’t pass an exam to save their life, but can easily recount and retell what they’ve learnt in a casual setting. Likewise, I’ve had students – usually students who are considered ‘booksmart’ – who are uninterested in learning things that aren’t relevant to their exam or assignment, because they’re more focused on what result they produce (which can often be a by-product of their parents’ influence) as opposed to what they learn.

This is important because I’m almost thirty: I can’t remember half the grades I received, but I can tell you that not all were reflective of my understanding. Some subjects came more naturally easily to me – and that’s not the influence of teachers, who can make or break you even enjoying a subject, let alone your desire to want to learn in said subject, yet I still know that sometimes my ‘best’ wasn’t always reflected in an exam, even if I did remember and understand what had been taught to me.

None of this is make-or-break stuff, and just because you aren’t ‘booksmart’ doesn’t mean you can’t succeed at life, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you (but an education is fucking important). What you need to do is work at what you want to do – not necessarily for your entire future, because contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to decide your entire future before you’re eighteen and then stick to it – and try and accomplish that. Maybe it’ll mean you’ll end up working in a newsagency for seven years before deciding to return to uni, but so?

Regardless of what path you take or why, I’m going to give you the best advice I can give you:

One thing that is certain, right next to death and taxes, is that you will get older. If you’re 25 and thinking, ‘But I don’t want to start uni at 25! I won’t graduate until I’m almost thirty’, instead, remember this:

Unless you die, you’re going to turn thirty. That’s a fact you can’t change.

So, at thirty, do you want to have graduated university to enter a job you do want, or do you want to be held back by what thirty might look like? Because you’re going to be thirty regardless – but if you really want that degree, that job, that whatever you’re working towards, you might as well do it.

Otherwise, you might find yourself asking the same question the next year, and the year after that, without realising that instead of wondering if you want to be an “old” uni graduate, you could’ve fucking finished that degree.

Just remember that if you’re worried about “fucking up your whole future”. You do sometimes get “do-overs”, but sometimes they’re not always easy, which is why people (your teachers, parents) are pushing you to be the best you can be – because they want the best for you.

It’s up to you to decide what the best for you is, and positive or negative, there will be consequences for every decision you make.

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Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14

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MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78

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— Sources —

Background

Bachelor of Education: English and History

Diploma in Criminology and Profiling

Diploma in Forensic Science

Background in law and psychology

Teacher 7+ years

Background in special needs, learning support – other specific teaching fields that required hands-on development.

NB: This is a declaration of the background of my personal knowledge, collected over the years via a professional form of education and development. Some of these take the form of actual degrees and others come in the form of necessary professional development. When doing your own research, you should always try and verify the person’s credibility. My credibility, nor anyone else’s, is not with their education. Everyone has biases and no one is infallible. I am deliberately including some of my background education to highlight this, because you should be questioning the information you are receiving.

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