Nicholas Grant

The coming months mark a period of anxiety and indecisiveness for many Year 12 students, with HSC exams and major works permanently fixed in the back of their minds. It is no secret that the penultimate years of schooling are stressful. But, with the help of hindsight, we asked first-year university students for tips to relieve pressure and ease the transition during these times.

Upon reflecting on Year 12, a common theme which arose was that students should be spending more time focusing on the ways in which they’re learning and creating strong study habits, rather than trying to retain content and information.


“What has benefitted me the most wasn’t the actual content in the subjects. Instead, it was learning about how to learn, and building my resilience.” Laura is studying science at the Australian National University in Canberra and is back home in Sydney temporarily. “In high school, I found it very easy to excel in maths and science, but the university equivalents are far more challenging. It’s been tricky to reconcile with the fact that I can’t expect to get high marks on an assignment without really working for it.”


A similar sentiment was shared by Chandra, who is now studying a dual law and business degree at the University of Technology Sydney. “It’s so important to really understand the purpose of what you’re learning, and to also find the ways of studying that work the best for you. Really take the time to accept feedback and take on challenges.”

Another key point was to take time for your mental health and just enjoy making memories. “I definitely wish I took more time to enjoy myself. I also wish I didn’t quit my extracurricular activities like so many people tell you to do.”

Australian society’s rather myopic view of education – attaining good marks, going to university, and getting a full-time job – plays a large role in shaping the views of many Year 12 students, and their plans for once they graduate. But life is unpredictable and chaotic, and this is obvious to any first-year university student. One anecdote recalled the story of a professor who “wears a giraffe onesie in his videos, has cameos from his cat, and ran a trivia competition with monetary prizes.” It’s normal for things to be weird at this crucial point in teenagers’ lives. But it’s best to embrace these moments, as they will certainly become some of your most vivid memories.