Top of the class: how to achieve dux success

Top of the class: how to achieve dux success

“Make time to play the PlayStation and to have a laugh.” It’s not what you’d expect to hear from a school Dux and yet this is the advice that Peter, 2019 Dux of his school, offered to his cohort when making his final speech.

I think what he is trying to get at is that balance is the key. 

Having said that, it’s not just balance that helped Peter to get to the top; he acknowledges it was a mix of focus, organisation and self-management. 

I sat down with Peter to find out how he did it. 

Use Your Support System

“It is so important to rely on and use your support system,” he says. 

“I was very fortunate to have people in my life to help ground me, keep me focussed and to provide the care and love I needed over the year.”

Peter says this was his friends, teachers and parents. 

“Sharing the challenges with your friends and working through them together is a great help.”

Things like after-school phone calls, library sessions and getting coffee together in the morning all enabled his friendship group to discuss their concerns. A problem shared is a problem halved. 

Along with this, Peter says after-school study groups offered by his school were the most helpful part of his study and learning. It was a new initiative of his school in 2019 and meant that there were tutors available until 8pm most nights to help the students work through their problems.

“I believe it made the difference for me in achieving more than I thought I was capable of and I would recommend any year 12s this year to use this support if it is available.”

While school services, teachers and friends all provided a safety net for Peter, he undoubtably attributes his Dux success to the support he received from his family, not only during year 12 but every day before and after. 

“If you have a child in year 12, it is important to just be there for them and show them that your support is always there,” says Peter. 

“My parents offered the simplest of things, and also the most significant things.” 

Peter highlights that it was the meals they prepared for him, the fact that they would drop him off and pick him up from school whenever they had a chance, the support offered with study and the opportunity the debrief and talk about the feelings and emotions he was having about challenges made all the difference. 

“They also were there to remind me to go to sleep at a reasonable time (and of course the not so gentle reminders to get off the PlayStation at night).”

Make Lists 

If you haven’t stated writing lists, it’s time to start today. Truly, they work. 

This simple mechanism might just hold the key to staying organised. Making lists enables you to know exactly where you are up to and what you need to do. 

“I made sure I had a list of things that I needed to do and I followed through with them,” acknowledges Peter. 

Employing this technique will allow you to keep up with due dates, assignment and tests. Just you wait. 

Get Rid Of The Unhelpful Mentality Of “Just Do It… Tomorrow”

Procrastination is your worst friend, especially when you have looming due dates and endless tasks to complete.

There are many techniques to use to combat the beast, such as setting timers and rewards throughout a study session and turning off your phone for an afternoon or day. 

“Do the things that keep your focussed and organised as soon as you can and tame the beast before it gets too wild.”

Draft, Draft, Draft

“Always handed up drafts to teachers for their feedback if possible,” says Peter. 

If your school encourages this, you should definitely utilise this service. Always ask your teachers or someone you know if they can have a read over your work before you submit it to make sure silly mistakes are not being made.  

Sprinkle in fun wherever you can

“Balance all of this out with some fun. 

For me, going to the gym and engaging in other hobbies and interests really helped to improve my outlook on Year 12 and subsequently my academic results.

“Try to find humour and laughter in everything – and the pressure and stress will slowly evaporate.”

In a nutshell Peter encourages future year 12s and their families to find what works for them. 

“Not every teacher will teach in a way that suits your learning style, and you and your friends may all prepare for tests and exams in different ways.

“Give everything a go and see what brings you the best results.”

Whatever the result or outcome, the most important take away is that you approach the year with maturity, goals and a positive outlook. 

Whether you’re top of the class, middle or anywhere in between, the most important thing is to try your best. Feeling the warmth of success might just be that easy. 

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