I am one of the fortunate ones out of many of my friends. Whilst a good Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) is something I strive towards, it is not something I require for my career path.

That’s not to say I’m not an academic student, as I’ve always been in an accelerated learning program and worked towards achieving the best results I possibly can. Despite this, my dreams and passions are in creating art and after completing my Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), I want to become a hairdresser and pursue my hobby of art on the side. This does not require me to even complete VCE, let alone achieve a high ATAR, which means that the uncertainty surrounding the rest of this year for year 12’s as well as the increased pressure placed on us to do well isn’t having as severe an effect on me as it is on others I know.

This year, we began our final year of schooling knowing that it was going to be stressful and hard, but none of us could have expected the circumstances that lay ahead. Now, working and learning from home in isolation and still trying to maintain motivation is one of the most difficult things I, along with my friends, have had to overcome. One thing that made the task of completing year 12 seem easier and more achievable was the fact that we were all doing it together. Talking to as well as studying with others helped us remember that we weren’t alone in this. At the moment, not seeing anyone in person is making it incredibly hard to remember others are in the same situation as ourselves, and it’s made harder by the fact that all we can do is stay at home.

On top of that, we have no idea how the rest of this year will roll out, or even if we’ll be given ATARs. The prospect of not having exams or modified exams comes as a great relief for many of us, including myself, as they place immense pressure and stress on Year 12’s. Many feel that everyone has different advantages and disadvantages amid this pandemic due to some people’s and schools’ limited resources. I personally believe that the marks we achieve at the end of this year don’t define our schooling lives and we can still have done well and learned valuable lessons during our 13 years of schooling without that final score. Other people I know have been working towards achieving a high ATAR, and it has been their driving motivation this year. Not knowing if that end goal still exists for them makes it hard to keep working towards it, which is a different struggle altogether.

Every Year 12 faces their own individual version of this struggle, and we all have different feelings towards different issues created by this situation, but we are all having trouble in some way with the uncertainty and pressure we’re facing during this time. I am lucky, as I have a supportive family who do their best in helping with and understanding my problems. But some people I know aren’t in the same boat and are struggling more than myself. Due to the subjective nature of the challenges Year 12’s are facing, it’s hard to know what the Government or Education Department can do to support our endeavours during this time. However, we are in need of support from everyone in our lives, including parents, teachers and friends as we work through and wait out this stage of schooling during isolation. All anyone can do is support each other as best we can and remember that achieving an ATAR isn’t the defining moment of our lives and if we don’t get one, not getting it won’t affect our lives in the long run, we need to stay positive and believe we can achieve what we set our sights on, regardless of a number.

Lara Loviero is a Year 12 student currently completing their VCE. They love art, and want to become a hairdresser and pursue their artistic aspirations on the side. Lara loves being outside, going to new places, and wants to travel a lot in the future.