VCE advice for summer 2012

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You are about to embark on a long journey, a journey that will no doubt have its ups and downs. Along this journey there will be times when you will feel positive, on top of things and pro-active, and there will probably be times in which you will feel discouraged. It is crucial that you utilize your summer break in the best way possible – to ensure that you work as effectively as possible throughout your VCE year.

In this article we will be going through the top 10 ways of how you, as a VCE student can effectively prepare for your VCE during the summer break.

(1) Rest and relax … in this way you will be able to make the most of the break before a challenging year!

Personally I have always been a highly energetic and driven person – I value hard work and taking action to produce results however I also believe that everybody needs to have some time off – simply to detox from working throughout the year and to have a well deserved break.

In 2010 I was working consistently, maintaining the business, managing the business, working on the website, tutoring privately, tutoring classes, and somewhere in the background doing my engineering degree… it has been a tough year and year in which even my car is unhappy with me due to the un-endless travelling and accidental driving into stationary objects – due to a constant need to be somewhere “ten minutes ago”.

After finishing my exams three weeks ago I couldn’t be bothered working anymore – there was not way I wanted to even think about the business – not because I lost passion, but simply I needed time to myself … So over the past three weeks I am proud to say that I have accomplished absolutely nothing, apart from regenerating my own peace of mind, eating lots of ice-cream, going on long walks, reading and enjoying whatever weather Melbourne was in the mood for!

I don’t think I have had three weeks off like this for a long time! I find that after that I am feeling a lot more motivated about things now, and feel much more energetic. I am still going to continue to rest – and allow inspiration to flow back to me naturally.

Remember for all of the VCE students about to begin this journey, don’t force yourself to work from the first day of your holidays, don’t worry about your holiday homework yet – just relax and enjoy the sun a bit. Enjoy your holidays and free time, because you will have plenty of time to work and plenty of time to study, and if you begin now, it may not necessarily work in your favour! If you are well rested you will be able to work more effectively and think much more clearly.

(2) Write out your personal VCE mission statement.

During the summer you will have time to reflect upon what you truly want during your VCE year. In this spare time you can write out your own personal VCE mission statement. So what is this VCE mission statement?
Basically it is a letter that you address to yourself – you will find that it can help you become motivated, when you are faced with disappointment or self-doubt throughout the VCE.

In the VCE mission statement you should include;

(i) A description about what your overall goal is.
Is your goal to get into Law, Medicine, Engineering, Vet Science or maybe Accounting? Is your goal to get a certain ATAR, maybe a 99.95? Or perhaps is your goal simply to get 25/50 in all your subjects? When choosing a goal be sure that it is realistic for you – however at the same time will challenge you! Be sure that you do your research about what subjects you need to do in order to enter your “career of choice” so that you avoid disappointment in the future year, if you haven’t chosen the right subjects.

(ii) Find reasons for your overall goals.
There are underlying reasons behind reasons … Why is it that you want to do medicine? Is it because you want to help people to become healthy? Or do you want to children with cancer? Or do you simply want to do it because people around you want you to do it? For every goal there are finer and finer “sub-goals”, motivating you to achieve the overall goal. These goals are unfortunately, generally not discovered which causes many VCE students to lose hope during the middle of the year – when it is crucial to remain alert and focused. (iii) In this mission statement assume you are talking to yourself in a “de-motivated future self”.
There will come times when you will feel like you just can’t take the pressure anymore. Sometimes this feeling can really lead to self-sabotage, since most students work so incredibly hard throughout VCE – and then they become discouraged when they are so close to achieving their goal. By writing a proper mission statement, and thinking about what you would say to yourself in a de-motivated state you can significantly increase your energy levels. In VCE you need to be able to self motivate yourself to do those Methods, Chemistry questions – or to write that sample essay. In a sense you become your own “guru” … a way to increase your “self guru” is to write yourself a personal letter of encouragement, which gives good enough reasons to keep trying, and keep motivated even when times are tough.

(3) If you want a VCE tutor – find him/her during the summer break or at least early February.

VCE tutors may not benefit every student, however if you find that you struggle with the subject, or would like to move ahead with the VCAA syllabus in order to have enough time to study for the VCE exams then a VCE tutor is recommended. You will find that the best tutors are booked out by late February/ early March – why wait until then? Use your summer break to “interview” and try out the tutors that are available for your VCE subject. This will ensure that you are well prepared for the beginning of your VCE year – and also it will allow you to still have a selection of some of the top VCE tutors. Most students wait until they are very behind with their understanding of the work, until they contact a VCE tutor. This works negatively in two ways

(i) the student is too behind to be able to improve marks quickly
(ii) many VCE tutors that are excellent at their job are booked out.

(4) Talk to your parents/family about VCE

Most of the time parents are incredibly supportive. Sometimes they do not understand how VCE works, what you would like to achieve in your final VCE year and what your feelings are about the year!
If you remain closed and secretive about your feelings/worries then your parents will not be able to help you. Perhaps you will be studying Maths Methods in year 12, but you feel uneasy about the subject? Tell your parents! They should be able to understand and may be willing to hire a tutor for you. This is always better then letting the problem grow and pretending that it will get “better eventually” … most students find that the problem magnifies because theory builds up on pre-existing “assumed knowledge”.

(5) Be sure to keep your hobbies/interests in VCE

If you enjoy playing basketball, great! Don’t stop! If you enjoy extra curriculum activities that is fantastic … don’t think that by giving up on those activities your ATAR score will be better. In VCE balance in the key to good results! If you have the right ratio of responsibility vs. fun then you will be able to prevent the VCE burn out. Students often believe that if they have more time to study, then they will perform better. This is completely untrue. In fact more time increasing procrastination. Most people, if they are not under a pressure of time they will “float around” wasting time … for example making coffee, clearing the desk, going to chat to friends and not really progress in work. In other words, as time increases efficiency decreases. This is why the key is not clearing your life to study 5 hours a day, it is working more effectively to achieve the same results or more in significantly less time.
It is advisable to ensure that you maintain your hobbies because they are an important part of you and your personality, although VCE is an important time – it is not important enough to deprive you from things that you value.

(6) Find role models and people that will support you.

Perhaps you need a little bit of a push, or someone to talk to when times are tough. It is a good idea to find a VCE mentor – a person that can guide you through tough times and offer that extra support. Some examples are your VCE teachers, or perhaps your past VCE friends (pick ones that actually care about you) … maybe your brother, sister, cousin or parent. Tell them exactly what you want to achieve in your VCE year, and ask them if they are willing to support you when times become a bit rough … Sometimes people can really help you “re-centre” and come back into balance, since they have a different vantage point.

(7) Do your holiday homework

It is recommended that you do your holiday homework in the holidays ? not the night before it is due! Doing it too early may lead you to forget the concepts, however leaving it too late may cause you to become stressed and unprepared. A good time to do your holiday homework is mid/late January, therefore the concepts are relatively fresh in your mind and you are able to apply it when VCE begins.

Of course in the event of a student struggling with a particular VCE subject, it is recommended that you find a tutor that is able to “re-teach” concepts from year 11 and thereby clearing any issues before they grow in year 12. Another suggestion is self learning year 11, this is also possible to do however often self learning is much more tedious and slower. A true professional tutor is able to guide you through the theory at a much quicker rate, and also possesses the ability to eliminate unnecessary knowledge!

(8) Read your English novels

You will find that once you enter into the VCE year, you will become progressively busier. It is advised that you go through your English texts because you may run out of time. Reading the texts thoroughly is important, and even though you may forget segments of the novel – it will still remain stored partially in your memory. When reading it the second time around you will find that you remember most of the general theme, it is just the technicality of the book that you may have to pay attention to … for example the proper quotes to memorise.

(9) Read inspiring texts.

There are some great books out there that can inspire you to change your self-image. If you find that you would like to maximise your chances of success, it is suggested that you read the following books; (i) Psycho-cybernetics (Maxwell Maltz) (ii) Success Principle (Jack Canfield) – there are many more decent books that can motivate you throughout the year. It would be best to use your holidays to read some great books – if you don’t feel like reading another suggestions is finding the books on www.audible.com which has a selection of audio-books. Audiobooks are great because you can put them on your ipod and listen to them on the way to school or whenever you have free time.

(10) Clean your room and make a study space.

The last thing you really need to worry about when you start your VCE is a messy room. You will find that if your room is in a chaotic state, your study will be negatively affected. Your study area should be spacious with minimum distractions. Try to omit computers, telephones, family members because all of these factors cause distractions.
Ensure that you make your room “study friendly” … your room should be well lit with access to fresh air and in a relatively clean state – this will ensure that your well being is optimum for study!

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