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Stream and mountains

A Guide to High School

By Kimia Degani


High school is undoubtedly one of the busiest times of anyone’s life – filled with classes, homework, projects and assessments. But after being at Loreto for five years, I’ve compiled a list of tips on how to survive the crazy journey of high school that I’ve learned the hard way.

1. Optimism

Everyone knows that high school is hard – if it’s not now, it will be later. There will be times when you feel like you’re on top of everything, and other times when the world seems to be working against you. Whether you believe it or not, your attitude has a huge impact. If you’re constantly thinking and talking about how worried you are or how much work you need to do, it will only make the situation worse. The first thing you can do for yourself (and those around you) is stay calm and collected. I know that’s easier said than done, but remember that everyone is in the same boat, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s likely other people are too.

2. Sleep

I remember constantly being told how important it was to get a decent number of hours (by adults especially) but brushing it off anyway. At times, it can feel like you should be using every spare moment studying, but it’s important to remember that you’ve got a long way to go, and if you push yourself too hard for too long, you’re going to burn yourself out too early. I’ll admit I’m guilty of staying awake until early hours of the morning but let me tell you – you’ll feel it the next day. Some people work better at night, but you need to set a limit. The reality is, you need to be at school by 8.20am the next day, and if you’re sleep deprived, you’ll find it nearly impossible to focus on or absorb anything. It’s alright to stay up late every now and then for important assessments but doing it constantly can create a vicious cycle.

3. Try different study methods

Don’t feel that the way your friend is studying is the way you should be studying. Everyone learns differently, so don’t be afraid to draw mind maps, diagrams, make recordings and listen to them, or teach other people. As long as you cover all the information you need, it doesn’t matter how you learn it. I remember writing all of my year 11 notes in endless word documents, but realising how intimidating it was, summarising it in tables on different OneNote pages.

4. Motivate yourself

High school is a long process, so it’s normal to feel like giving up sometimes. If you’ve got a goal, dream or vision of what your life is going to look like in the future, make a vision board for yourself. Hang it above your desk or anywhere in your room, so that every time you look up, you’re reminded of what you’re working towards. Another method is to plan exciting rewards to look forward to. A shopping trip, a movie night, or a family dinner are events you can organise in advance to help you take a break after a long week or assignment.

5. Study smarter not harder

Lastly, and arguably most importantly, find smarter ways to study. Especially in the senior years, it can be tempting to try and memorise information for every syllabus dot point, but to make it easier for yourself, try learning essay plans or quotes that can be used for a variety of questions. In legal studies, for example, pick a handful of cases you already know or find easier to remember, that cover as many areas of the topic as possible. Same goes for evidence in history, quotes in English e.c.t

In saying all this, it’s important to remember that it all comes with practice. Some approaches need trial and error before you find out what works best for you. Collaborating with your friends and teachers will really help you discover the best ways to deal with the workload. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that it’s all a practice run to help you fine tune your skills for the finale. I was always a perfectionist when it came to school, so I never understood when people said, “it’s good to make mistakes”. But I know now that it’s about discovering your weaknesses early so you can fix them for the future. Do not stress yourself out over the little things because when you step back, they play a very small part in the overall picture.


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