For those who hate high school, you’ve heard this one before. Whether it be from your ‘rents, the guidance counsellor or the thousands of studies and reports done every year on the education system:

‘School just isn’t for everybody’

It’s bloody true.

Hours of lecture style learning five days a week for six years of your life can’t possibly suit millions of students like a glove. Add homework and social pressures on top of this and you have an educational environment with the potential to get very toxic very quickly. No wonder some of us hate it.

Sometimes, those six years are an eternity. It can be easy to feel trapped in monotony of a daily schedule that consists of waking up, surviving school, surviving homework, going to bed and then starting all over again the next day.

Sometimes finishing school is necessary to move on and get qualified enough to do what you actually want to do, but for a lot of people making it to that finish line is confusing, difficult and painful. Everything that learning shouldn’t be.

So, what happens if you’re the ‘everybody’ that school just ‘isn’t for?’

1. Know what you’re interested in

Usually, a good way to figure out what your passions and talents are is to analyse what you think about during your average class. If it’s how badly you would rather be surfing or how the light streaming through the window would make a perfect photo, then that’s probably where your passions lie.

What you love doing isn’t always tangible. You might just love creating or telling stories and that’s okay. Knowing what to look for is the first step in finding something, and then you can figure out how to make it into a career from there.

2. Play the system

If you understand what your passion is, you can start to tailor your school life to suit you. A big part of doing this is choosing subjects that you love, and not just subjects that you (or your parents or the ATAR scaling system) thinks you should love. This isn’t always possible but sometimes a few sessions of Wood Tech or Visual Art or Outdoor Ed will be the difference between making it to the end of high school or having a mental breakdown.

3. Think outside the box

It might take a little time but it’s worth looking at alternative pathways surrounding work, study and travel. Take up a TAFE or VET course in an area you think you might like. Have a squiz at the learning Utopia of the internet (that’s how you got here, right?). Volunteer locally or look for part time jobs off the beaten youth employment track of cashiers and burger flippers (unless you love doing that, then please continue). Having something to come home to other than homework and Netflix can be a much-needed breath of fresh air and help you push through the year.

4. Cut yourself some slack

It can be astronomically crappy to come to the realisation that the way you think is not recognised by the very system that is supposed to prepare you for the rest of your life. But, just because school doesn’t recognise your talents doesn’t mean that they’re not valuable; people who think a little differently generally end up powering the world. So, forgive yourself if you’re not the perfect student. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself permission to do the things that you love, rather than stressing about performing within a system that you hate.

by Anna Warwick