when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Monday, March 23, 2015 12:00 AM

If you’re in the unfortunate position of being put back a year because you’ve failed your exams through illness or other unforeseen circumstances it can be hard to keep motivated and make the best of it. Last year, I was forced to repeat Year 12 due to illness and although I found it tough at first, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. Here are some ideas that you might find helpful if you’re in the same boat.

Obviously, your main priority during this year should be your schoolwork. If you’ve been struggling with it, repeating the year can be a great chance to be able to go through topics again at a calmer pace when you’re not being pressured to cram in revision for an upcoming exam. You may still find the same areas tricky, but take a breath – you’ll have a lot more time to try and get your head around the subject. Some schools may even let you take different subjects the second time round – this might be worth considering if you feel your previous choices weren’t suited to you.

If you’ve revised your plan about your long term goals, an extra year can be a useful opportunity to pick up some skills to help you when it comes to writing a personal statement or job application. With more free time, you could get some practical work experience, read all those extra articles and books you never had time for, or take part in a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). Of course, it doesn’t need to be all about school. You could spend the time learning to drive, or even taking up cookery classes! Anything that allows you to chill out and take a break from your schoolwork helps you to not feel like you’re stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque repeat.

Talk to staff at your school as they may have ideas and options that you might want to consider. When I repeated a year, I was able to attend extra Critical Thinking classes and work towards an Extended Project – two things I had never previously thought of doing. I found the Extended Project particularly useful as it allowed me to experience the kind of independent study and research that I might be required to do in university. If you’re not keen on taking on more academic work, you could think about joining a sports club, volunteering with younger students or taking on a role as a prefect. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to find something that you’ll enjoy.

So remember, if you are back a year for whatever reason, see it as an opportunity. Remember, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

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