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Your final years of high school are some of the most important of your schooling life, but you shouldn't have to look back on them as the most stressful.
Sure, Year 12 is one of the most important years of your schooling life, but it's not one you should have to look back on as the most stressful. The ATAR isn't the be-all-and-end-all, it's merely an indication. What relieved a lot of stress for me was getting an early offer to UOW through Early Admission. I had a place guaranteed at UOW before I even sat my HSC exams. How's that for a weight off your shoulders? And in the case that you don't get in early, or your ATAR isn't high enough to get you into the degree you want, there are other pathways, like UOW College. Come to think of it, now I can't even remember what my ATAR was!
While we're on the topic of finances, let's talk scholarships. One of the biggest misconceptions I had in year 12 was that 'only the really smart kids got the scholarships'. Oh, how I was wrong! Take 5 minutes to get on the scholarship website and enter in your details - you might be surprised by what's available. There's everything from sport and community involvement to women in STEM, equity and so much in between!
The one thing I really believe university offers is opportunity. The trick is spotting the ones that tickle your fancy and saying yes to them. In my experience, my degree itself has been less about the piece of paper at the end and more a vehicle for opening doors and creating opportunities, all while I'm still in the process of learning.
As much as we plan it to be, life really doesn't always run that smoothly, and hiccups happen that can really put a spanner in the works. You might get here and find you don't like the degree you started in and need to do some reshuffling. You might need to take a few months off to have a bit of R&R and get back on your feet. Maybe you need to drop back to a part-time schedule to leave more space for a job. University is what you make it and, unlike school, your routine can be completely customised to suit you and where you're at in your life. I've had brain surgery twice while I've been at uni for goodness sake! And I'm still on track just fine thanks to the flexibility and support of the academic staff.
In the first few weeks of uni, it's easy to get caught up in the craziness of O-Week, moving in and staring a new schedule. You're going to meet stacks of new faces every day and be smacked with a hectic new social and academic schedule, which will be different to anything you've ever known at school. During this time, and for the duration of your life for that matter, it's very important to be gentle on yourself and give yourself time to adjust. Those first few weeks or even months are going to be a tester, but you're in luck. At UOW there's some awesome support services on campus that are free for students to access. I'm talking counsellors, student support advisers, international student programs and so much more.