Being two years out of high school, I’ve gotten to the point where I can look back with a little thing called hindsight. I finished Year 12 with a pretty solid ATAR, went straight to uni for a year, took a break, did a couple of internships, worked in hospo and admin then landed a full time gig at Year13 and ditched the whole degree thing altogether.

Turns out, all the stress and tears (and there was a lot of both in the lead up to exams), didn’t count for much in the long run.

It did teach me a lot though and there were things I wish I had known before starting Year 12 that would have made everything a whole lot easier.

1. Just fucking do it

The majority of my stress came from procrastination. Procrastinating homework, studying, major works and revision. I procrastinated starting my assignments and essays and put off asking my teachers for help when I needed it.

For anyone heading into Year 12, just do it.

Do your Ancient History homework during the first ten minutes of lunch, find quotes for your essay the day your teacher asks you to and start your assignment in the first free period you get.

Don’t give yourself a chance to put it off–just sit down (preferably in the library or a classroom, rather than going home and giving yourself a chance to start watching Netflix) and get it done.

2. Stay on top of it all

You don’t need to buy a diary to do this (though, it could help). Use your phone calendar, stick post-it notes on the front of your books or write it up on a calendar in your room. Whatever you do–stay on top of everything.

From assignments to excursions and science pracs. Set an alarm to remind you a week before it’s due and don’t let yourself start drowning under the mountain of work you’ve got.

3. Don’t stop doing the things you want to do

Play sport, hang out with your friends and work at the Woolies down the road so you have money to spend on whatever you want. Binge watch Netflix shows and go for driving lessons and get your Ps. Play with your little brother and eat dinner with your parents.

Don’t avoid the things you want to do because you’ve convinced yourself you don’t have time and you need to study. It’s easy to make a list of things you want to do after this assignment is due, after this set of exams is over, after you finally graduate, and never do anything fun in the meantime.

But it’s the little stuff that you actually want to do, like watching the latest series dropped on Netflix or going for a drive to Maccas–that will make everything else bearable.

4. Find your Plan B

And your Plan C, D, E and F. It’s good to have an idea of the pathway that will get you from your starting point to your end goal after high school, but it’s also important to have back up options.

This way you know that whatever happens, you’re sorted. There’s so many options out there- TAFE, apprenticeships, traineeships, working, travel, university, private college, short courses- and you have nothing to lose by planning for the worst case scenario if Plan A falls through.

5. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone

Starting Year 12 isn’t easy, and the year just gets progressively harder. Looking back, I can say ‘yeah I wish I’d relaxed more’ but I know that Year 12 me was feeling the pressure, regardless of how many people told her to ease up.

So, talk to someone. Talk to your favourite teacher, your school counsellor or a GP. Book in to see a psychologist or refer yourself to your school’s support system. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I’m having a shit time, can someone please help me out’.

6. Your teachers know a lot–but not everything

Your teachers know their shit. They’ll know exactly what makes a top mark essay, how to reference properly and what case study to use in your Legal Studies long answer.

They’ll also be pretty great to talk to if you’re stressed about your exams or need some extra help on your essay. If you’re really lucky, they’ll occasionally bring their dog into class to help you destress (shout out to my Year 12 English teacher for being this great).

But, while teachers know a lot, they don’t know everything–especially when it comes to your plans after high school.

They’ll be able to give you some guidance, but don’t rely on their opinion alone to inform your life.

Talk to everyone you can–big brothers and sisters, older people at work, your parents, students at uni open days and careers advisors. Google the shit out of the industry you’re interested in and do your own research (or trawl through our articles). There’s a tonne of helpful stuff out there.