Serious studying has begun as final exams loom closer for Year 12 students across the country.
While the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) has already received almost 40,000 early-bird applications for undergraduate study in 2024 from Year 12 students, many will be waiting to see how their exam results help them choose their path after finishing school.
Phillip Williamson, one of the head teacher careers for the NSW government's Educational Pathways Program, said it was vital that Year 12 students went easy on themselves, did some self-reflection, and did their research.
"It's OK not to know what you want to do, don't put pressure on yourself," he said.
"With all the options available to you, sometimes decisions can be quite overwhelming.
"By removing the burden of expectation, you open yourself up to opportunities and possibilities that may present themselves."
Mr Williamson said it was also important for students to be open to possibilities.
"If you still don't know exactly what you want to do at university, there is no shame in deferring courses, undertaking vocational training or employment, enrolling in tertiary preparation programs, or taking a gap year to give you time to explore your options instead of jumping straight in," he said.
It's OK not to know what you want to do, don't put pressure on yourself.- Phillip Williamson, NSW Educational Pathways Program, head teacher careers
"No matter which path you choose to take, remember that your career is about the direction you take, not the destination."
While Year 12 students are advised not to put too much pressure on themselves, studying and being prepared is still important; however, study anxiety can cause real problems for students.
Experts at Australia's most experienced remote learning organisation, Open Colleges, said there were several tips students could use to help manage their anxiety:
Current Year 12 student Sophie said she wasn't overly nervous about her exams and had a plan in place to help her with studying.
"I think just trying to find a routine that works for you and sticking to it helps," she said.
"While I get studying is important, I think it's just as important to get time away from it and relax a bit."
Sophie said while coming up with a study schedule or plan could be easy, sticking to it could be the hard part.
"At the start, I was worried about distractions and found myself just scrolling through my phone quite a bit, but once I started focusing a bit more, I stopped doing that," she said.
"I actually ended up using my phone to chat to friends about what they were studying and ask some questions I had, so phones can still be useful."
Dear Year 12 students,
You made it! Final exams are imminent, and you're no doubt juggling study with grand plans for muck-up day, or schoolies, perhaps both.
Next year is awash with possibilities, and after 13 years of school, you'll take your first steps towards independence.
Just like your folks, I remember 2011 like it was last week. And 2018 like it was yesterday.
Your first day of primary school and first day of secondary school are understandably more memorable for us, the ones who waved goodbye at the gate before posting first-day photos on Facebook as we wept quietly (or openly) about how you, our baby, was growing up so fast.
You probably flossed, dabbed, and bottle-flipped your way through part of the 2010s, had an array of fidget spinners, and were obsessed with Fortnite, then TikTok.
When Year 9 arrived, so did COVID. Boom!
For you, that formative year, often associated with huge change, was met with upheaval of a completely different and unexpected kind: homeschooling, online classes and more time spent in your bedroom than even you had ever wished for.
Eventually, we all resurfaced, some a little more bruised than others from the forced hibernation at a time when friends, sports and parties are usually pivotal.
Lockdowns have now passed, and in the blink of an eye, we're here. The end of your schooling is so close, you can feel it.
So soak it all up - your graduation ceremony, summer holidays, TAFE, O-week, university, that first day of work, travel, and everything else 2024 holds in store.
Whatever happens, don't forget - you are not defined by your exam scores, your ATAR, or any other result that sits alongside your name in the coming months.
What matters is that you made it.
Take care of yourself and your mates, including the new ones you're yet to meet but might form lifelong bonds with in the very near future.
Finally, please remember to check in with us every now and then, the ones who nurtured you as you grew your wings. We hope you soar.