So after years of study and early mornings, you’ve finally made it to the senior years of high school. Yet along with your senior privileges, you’ve been gifted with the biggest workload you’ve ever had to face, not to mention your future in your hands.
It’s an understatement to say that motivation slips and slides through Years 11 and 12.
But it’s important to remember that this is completely normal, plus there are plenty of ways to increase your motivation and making sure you stay motivated.
That’s why we’ve created our top six tips to making sure you stay on top of your game and smash your senior year whilst staying motivated!
Tip #1: Set Your Goal
One of the most classic and effective ways to maintain motivation throughout the year is to set a goal for the end of high school – ATAR, career or degree wise.
This is an essential motivator as it reminds you, through the multiple late nights and constant stream of assignments and assessments, that there is an end to this madness; that there is something worth fighting for.
University, TAFE, and other post-high school options are exciting! They signify the beginning of your adult life and your future career. Setting this vision as your goal puts that challenging maths question or complex English essay into perspective and helps you see the larger picture at stake.
Also, setting a goal for the end of year means you don’t enter exams or complete assignments with the hope of simply not failing. Having no goal makes it a lot easier to slip into the mentality of what’s the point? or it’s not going to get me anywhere.
Instead, attend university open days, career expos, or talk to your friends/family/teachers to decide a career you want to attain.
It’s a lot to ask 16 to 18-year-olds to choose their dream career, but even if you manage to pick a backup degree, that still comes with an ATAR goal. Who knows? You might discover your dream career later in Year 12!
Find where you want your Year 11 and Year 12 results to take you and use that to motivate your study.
Tip #2: Talk to a Careers Advisor
A huge de-motivator for a lot of students is that their dream career requires an ATAR far above what they assume they are capable of. And, as the year goes on and the marks that come back keep missing the mark, students only come closer and closer to giving up.
To avoid this, talk to your careers advisor.
There are so many alternate paths into your dream career that you perhaps have never even heard of. Sometimes there are easier transfer paths, or universities with lesser requirements or a lot of bonus points up for grabs.
The point is, don’t assume that the only way to get into your dream degree is to attain that impossibly high ATAR. Because it’s not.
Talk to your careers advisor, especially if that ATAR or goal is looking harder and harder throughout the year. An alternate path into your dream career may mean you adjust your goal for Year 12 but it does so without sacrificing your overall goal.
Having a back-up career path and knowing your fail-safes ensures you remain motivated to continue persevering in your studies despite underwhelming marks or excessive stress.
Tip #3: Talk to a Teacher
Teachers become part of your support system in Years 11 and 12 as you interact with them on a daily basis, whether that’s in class at homeroom or lunch – they’re always there to look out for you.
They often have insight into job markets, post-high-school options and of course, academia which can make talking to them particularly useful when you want to find some motivation.
A lot of students often forget that teachers went through university and high school and have faced the same plights as themselves. Many have gone through several careers or degrees to get where they are.
Though they might not have the professional advice of a careers advisor, many have had experiences around career-changing or degree transfers to motivate you if you are uncertain about your career path and/or future (especially if you want to go into teaching!).
Teachers also have plenty of stories about student miracles and study tips as the year goes on and motivation slowly fades. They’ve seen years and years of students at their absolute worst and know what has been done to bring them up to scratch.
Talking to teachers can be motivating as you hear of interesting career paths or how that one student jumped up twenty ranks from just their Trials mark alone.
Also, if you are underperforming in a certain subject and feeling extremely unmotivated, often the best course of action is to approach your teacher. Often, they will have specific advice on how to improve your mark and will give personalised feedback on your work.
Knowing the course of action to see an effective improvement can really motivate you to strive hard in a subject you were previously performing badly in.
So talk to your teachers when you feel your motivation slipping.
Tip #4: Use Simple Lists
One of the biggest de-motivators in Years 11 and 12 is when the workload is so large, it becomes overwhelming, pushing students to give up, become frazzled, freak out, or all of the above.
Even using planners or diaries can come across as intimidating, or worse, they exacerbate the stress as more and more work gets added to the dates.
That’s why you should use simple lists.
Get a piece of paper and list out everything you want to be done today.
Keep the descriptions short and concise. Clear the clutter in your mind.
With a simple list, the work becomes a lot more approachable and attainable. And if the work seems attainable, you’re a lot more likely to feel motivated to do it.
Tip #5: Study Somewhere Else
For many students, studying at their desk, at home, in their room/study, is a normal, everyday occurrence.
What happens, however, is they come to associate their desk with boredom: every time they sit down to do work, their first instinct is to procrastinate.
So instead, find an alternate place to study. Go to the library, or a cafe, or even your dining room table.
A fresh workspace can be enough to refrain from your instinctive boredom and instead, find the motivation to study (especially if you travelled somewhere specifically to study).
Tip #6: Talk to Alumni/Mentor/Tutor
Older students who have graduated have been in your shoes. They know the year of stress you are in and they have come out fine. What’s more, is that many of them have advice and stories of how they dealt with the workload and pressure of Year 11 and 12.
Hearing from someone who survived and is thriving in their post-high-school life can do wonders to your motivation. It shows you where you can be within the next year.
And once more, it puts your high school workload into perspective and reminds you of the bigger picture you are trying to reach.
Well, there are our top six tips to getting motivated in Years 11 and 12!
Trust me, the workload can be overwhelming, the stress can be omnipresent and the boredom can be overpowering, but seriously, the payout is worth it.
I hope these six tips help you get through these next two years.
Just remember, there is a bigger picture.
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Jacinda Yang graduated in 2018 and is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications) at the University of Sydney. She has been an avid writer and reader for as long as she can remember, dipping into public speaking competitions, short stories, slam poetry and even the dark, unmentionable days of Wattpad fiction. These days you can find her bingeing Netflix comedy specials or guiltily still indulging in young adult novels.