A clever way to approach education

Recently I was asked to attend my High School's mentorship breakfast for the current Year 12/VCE Students. In my absence I thought I'd send them a letter as a guide on how best to approach their year. Figured I should also share here. Original title "A Clever Way to Approach Year 12"

Dear Year 12,

Here’s my mentorship in three basic points. A clever and mindful approach to Year 12. Something for you to keep, share online, stick in a folder or on your bedroom wall.

1. Choose the people in your orbit wisely. This extends to mentors and study friends. Make sure they're aligned with what you’re after. If they’re a tutor, how relevant are they to your current curriculum? Were they a star student? Can they teach as well as they smash exams? If they’re just a straight up mentor, do they embolden your life in anyway? Are they generous with information? Do they have a positive outlook? Do you? You should and they should.

In line with the great teachers I had in Year 12, I was regularly tutored by a previous Dux for three of my five VCE subjects. My study friends weren’t regular friends in Year 12 - we just came together to learn from our shared tutor and to regularly quiz one another.

Mentorship can take many forms. For example, if I was in your position today I’d couple my studies with inspiration from blogs like Brain Pickings, magazines and websites like Fast Company, Dumbo Feather, Monocle and The Renegade Collective.

2. Get ahead. This works in two parts. 1. Get ahead before the class arrives at the subject material and 2. Get ahead with revision long before being examined.

That means read chapters (ideally one or two) on each subject ahead of time. Read all your English books before the class arrives at them.

Regularly revise and test your memory on what you've learnt each day. Sit practice exams in your own time. By the time your exams come around you’ve mastered all you’re required to know.

Using this advice was a boon for me. I turned getting D’s, C’s and the occasional E to straight A’s. I wasn’t naturally gifted in the way the education system assesses students. I’m not a quick study. Getting ahead and being across the material more times than what was “normal” or “expected” was the only way I could excel.

3. Work to 80% energy. You read it right. Working to 80% of your energy levels is not a B. It’s an A+. It means you work smarter. It’s not to be confused with not putting in all/100% of your effort. And it doesn’t mean you’re slacking off. You still should put in 100% effort. The only difference is that you’d be taking Year 12 with a better state of mind compared to being overtired and unnecessarily stressed. When you work to 80% of your energy levels, you don’t burn out. Your mind is clearer, you’re more prepared and organised. You schedule realistic times to study, rest, exercise, enjoy your life and you give yourself adequate sleep.

Keep these ideas. Share them.

Let this year be a defining year for all the right reasons.

Wishing you all the best,

Faustina Agolley