When I was a kid, it’s safe to safe I was the teacher’s pet. I would get 90+ percent on all assessments, I was always asked to write and present speeches, gold stars on all my reports and scratch n sniff stickers covered my journals. The teachers loved me and they always said I would go far. Yep, my childhood was great. School was great, life in general was great.

But things changed. High school hit me like a wrecking ball. All of a sudden my gold stars didn’t matter, the scratch n sniff stickers were thrown in the bin along with my previous efforts. All of a sudden, teachers weren’t congratulating me, they were asking me questions no 13 year old should have to answer. Questions like, what are you going to do with your life? and what is one thing you can do that will make you the most money?

The first few years were okay, I performed at a reasonable level, I wanted to make the teachers proud. But most of all, I wanted my childhood back, and so I tried my best to keep my grades up. I was okay right up until the end of Year 10. This is when I was asked to determine my future, and one certain pathway was pushed onto me immediately.

Your ATAR is how you will get into uni.

Try for a high ATAR, you are capable.

And as all of you know, finishing Year 12, and getting the best possible ATAR is not easy- it’s stressful. It is unbearable sometimes.

Teachers were always telling us that everything we did contributed to our ATAR score. Eventually the stress of it all became too much. I was no longer performing like I used to. Assessments I once scored 90% percent on I was now scoring 55%. No matter how hard I tried to be the student I once was, I just couldn’t do it.

Our teachers always tried to get us to try our best. But I, and a lot of you, have been crushed by this huge foot they call our future. They say our ATAR matters and that your future is largely dependent on what you are able to achieve right now. But how are we supposed to perform to our best ability when we are always under a constant state of stress? I’m sure some of you are in my position as well.

It’s easy to get caught up in it all but your final marks and rankings aren’ all that matters. Hey, if you’re doing well in school, good on you! Keep going. However, your ATAR doesn’t determine who you are.

Don’t worry if you aren’t the teacher’s pet anymore. Don’t stress over not achieving things you know you are capable of. We all have grades we aren’t proud of. Our education system forces us all to learn the same things when we all have different needs. We are asked to determine our future when we have only been on this earth for just over a decade. No matter what anyone says, we are the kids living through this, and we are the ones who know what we are going through.

Don’t let the stress get to you because no matter what your ATAR ends up being or what your general grades are, you will end up where you are supposed to be. What is happening now will be over very soon, just hold on to the end and you can enter the world with fresh eyes and a brand new perspective.

 

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