Monday marks the first day of exams for year 12 students and while pressure builds, mental health organisation ReachOut.com is reminding young Australians there are other pathways to a great future other than the final exam result through their campaign, “There’s Life After Year 12 Exams.”
Research shows 43 percent of young Australian students have concerning levels of anxiety come exam time, while 52 percent believe too much is expected of them in year 12.
“During 2014’s exam period, ReachOut.com had more than 80, 000 visits, and views of study-and-stress related content increased by more than 500 per cent,” ReachOut Australia CEO Jono Nicholas told The Huffington Post Australia.
Nicholas said that for many young Australians, it is as if they are sitting a life-defining exam, and if they don’t do well there are limited other options, which only adds to the pressure and for some young people, can become unsustainable.
“We’ve created a culture that says everyone has to finish year 12 whether you like it or not and now the expectation is almost that if you’re not going on to university or further study — you’re not ambitious — and this cultural pressure is highly unnecessary,” said Nicholas.
The campaign features prominent Australians including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, HuffPost Australia Editor-At-Large, Lisa Wilkinson and journalist Melanie Doyle, who share their personal experience of year 12 — reminding students the final score isn’t detrimental — and to try and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.
TODAY Show hosts Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson got involved with the cause, with Wilkinson admitting her life turned out completely differently to how she had planned when she was in year 12.
“My life looks nothing like I imagined it would be,” she said.
“That is one of the great joys of that moment when you walk out of school and all of the endless possibilities that life is going to throw at you present themselves, there is life after year 12 exams, I promise.”
Stefanovic told students to remember it is not necessary to know what you want to do with your life straight away.
“Once you realise what you want to do in life, and that may come a year later, it may come three years later, it’s whole lot easier,” he said.
Even Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has admitted he may not have worked as hard as he should have for his HSC exams.
“I probably didn’t pay as much attention to mathematics as I should’ve done given that I’ve spent a lot of my life in the financial world,” Mr Turnbull joked with ReachOut.com.
“There is no point being anything other than chill when you do the exam.
“There’s life after year 12 exams, there’s your whole life ahead of you.”
Online media editor Mia Freedman spoke about her experiences with her year 12 exams and how they led to her studying a communications degree, which she hated.
Successful businesswoman Mia Freedman said she ended up dropping out of university to work after her HSC.
She dropped out after a year and took up an internship at CLEO Magazine.
“It’s impossible to have the wisdom of hindsight when you’re in the middle of something,” she told ReachOut.com.
“I know it feels like you’re being funnelled into one door, it’s not like that, there are actually hundreds of doors and tunnels and windows and basements to get into your future.
“It’s not all or nothing.”
Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli has reminded students to work hard and not to be afraid to ask for help if they need it, in a statement released this morning.
“My message to students is to stay focussed over the next month, but to also take care of themselves – get plenty of rest, eat healthy meals, exercise and ask for help if needed.”
The exams run from today until November 4.
Watch some of the ‘Life After’ videos here