Each morning, Shellharbour Anglican College year 12 student Eve Thomas wakes up and writes her "to do" list as a motivational tool for the day ahead.
Working from home, Eve is just one of many Australian year 12 students feeling a sense of uncertainty as they attempt to complete their final year of education amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Year 12 students have this week faced early school holiday periods, changes to exam and assessment conditions, social distancing in the classroom and a move to online learning from home, as state governments implement measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Eve, 17, sat her half-yearly exams last week and is now working online from home, unsure just how long this part of her year 12 journey will endure.
"I'm feeling frustrated. If I have a question I have to send an email whereas usually, we are face-to-face - it's hard with the online," Eve said.
"It is also really hard to find your own motivation. I'm working at home but I still feel like I'm not doing as much as I would at school."
Online learning for Eve takes many forms.
"We have conferences once a day, some teachers like to send us work through email, others are conducting conferences via Zoom and some of those are one-on-one, which is good.
"All of those at my school are working really hard to make it work."
Albury-based college counsellor Dr Anthony Perrone said many students in year 12 are feeling a little apprehensive, particularly about the uncertainty of their HSC or state equivalent.
"They are concerned about assessments not being taken and how this will affect their rank/standing," Dr Perrone said.
"Further, the confusion surrounding information coming out from the government has not helped the situation - for example schools to stay open but it's okay for students to stay at home and the slow, or no, information coming out from NESA simply adds to students' anxieties."
For Eve, like many year 12 students, the future is not far from her mind.
"I'm worried. I think we all feel concerned that we will not do as well in our HSC. There was some talk about limiting how much work we are going to get - we don't know what's going to happen."
With her sights set on a Bachelor of Creative Arts, Eve said she would look to early entry while others solely dependent on a university entry mark are "a lot more stressed".
Year 12 student Harry Briese, who attends school in Albury NSW, was set to sit in-school exams at the end of this week, however, some of these will now be completed as assessment tasks at home.
He, like other students, is caught in a fluid situation, which changes daily.
"It's a bit stressful not knowing exactly how we might be being taught in the future and also about the uncertainty of the actual HSC exams going ahead," Harry said.
He said his biggest challenge moving forward was motivation.
"Being able to motivate yourself without knowing what you're working towards is really hard, because you can't really set yourself much of a goal.
"My plan is just to stay on top of everything and to keep in a good daily routine."
Dr Perrone said it was important for parents of year 12 students to keep their children focused on the "here and now".
"In other words, focus on what they know and can do rather than what they cannot control or do anything about.
"In this way they will be in the present and not trying to live in the future.
"Stay strong, don't give into the pressures of negative press and remember we cannot control what we cannot control."
Dr Perrone said there were a number of measures parents could take to support their children:
- First, get children to live as normally as possible (exercise, drink plenty of water, listen to music etc)
- Instead of looking out for your children and waiting to see how they are going, be proactive. Some will have trouble talking about what they are feeling inside. My advice is get them to talk, they will feel better after they do and they may find support where they least expect it
- Simply reassure them they are only one of many year 12 students in the same boat, therefore they are not alone
- Finally, social media can have a negative impact especially if the social media they are engaged in has a negative tone to it. Focus on the positives, how fortunate we are etc.
If you need assistance: Lifeline 13 11 14, Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800, Headspace 1800 650 890.
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