Last Friday night, I lay awake until midnight, refreshing the same website over and over on my phone, wondering what it would dictate about my future. Would I be getting into university?
More specifically, would I be getting into the course I wanted? Had I worked hard enough during my last year of high school? Would my parents be disappointed with my scores?
Would I be disappointed with my scores?
Part of the reason I was so worried was because I knew there was a strong possibility I, and my family, would be disappointed with my scores — my grades were (mostly) good, but my standardized testing scores also involved comments* like “her writing makes no sense,” “wouldn’t know what a ninety degree angle looked like if it punched her in the face,” “her sketches look like a three-year-old drew them,” and “why did she even bother taking this test when she was just going to guess all the math questions and only get a third of the English ones right?”
I knew my score could go exactly three ways.
1) My score could be good enough to get me into university, but bad enough that I wasn’t particularly happy with them, a fate which would make me disappointed but happy at the same time.
2) My score wouldn’t get me into the university course I wanted, a fate which would make me angry, frustrated, and disappointed with myself. The conversation regarding “what the heck do I do with my life now?” would also accompany that fate.
3) My score would be good. Good enough to easily let me into university, good enough to make the last thirteen years of schooling worthwhile, good enough to make me (somewhat) forget the nights spent writing 2,000 word essays or struggling over math problems.
At exactly 12:01am on Saturday morning, my score was released. As soon as I saw that number, the number that dictated that I would indeed be going to university, the number that dictated that I could easily get into the course I wanted, I went barreling into my mother’s room, woke her up, and shoved my phone in her hand. We both grinned from ear-to-ear, knowing that my scores reiterated that I wasn’t an idiot, and knowing that it had all been worth it. Unlike America, where you get SAT scores, our final “score” in Australia is a mix of our grades at school, our ranking within our classes, and our results from our version of the SATs, the QCS. The best score possible is a 1, and the worst is 25. A 1 gives you the pick of any university course you want, a 25 gives you very little (think ten or so courses) to choose from.
For the courses I want to do within a Bachelor of Arts program: Criminology, Psychology, Creative Writing, and French, I needed a maximum score of 11. I ended up getting a 9, a score which I was ecstatic with, a score which didn’t erase the bad memories of high school study, but somehow diminished them, a score which made me so, so, so relieved.
High school seniors, I feel you. I really, really do. I remember the feelings of complete ambivalence towards your grades that comes with a particularly hard assignment, the feeling that you’re just completely and utterly “over it” and the feeling that high school was holding you back from the world. High school studying sucks, there’s no better way to put it. You have to do stupid assignments, assignments which make you convinced that whoever created them is laughing at all the students while watching them attempt them. You have to read books which are so boring, difficult or traumatizing (ahem, Beloved) that make you wonder how on earth they became classics in the first place, unless “classics” is really meant to be ironic. You have to do hours of homework, after sitting through eight hours of school (enough said).
BUT. Those assignments, those essays, that homework? It eventually sets you free into a totally beautiful high school free world. (Thank God). Just when you think you can’t handle reading another Shakespeare play which makes absolutely no sense, the whole thing ends, and with that comes nervousness, excitement and a feeling of total and utter cluelessness of what you will do with the rest of your life.
Part of dealing with that cluelessness though, is doing what has to be done to get you where you want to be later in life. Says me, who pretty much only said “I want that A+, I want that A+, I want that damn A+!” in Modern History in the last few weeks, and “Ugh! Why does this stupid subject exist? I will do this work but UGH let me just spend five minutes (an hour) procrastinating,” in all my other subjects the rest of the time.
Take it from me: the sweet success of getting what you need in order to do what you want to do will make it all worthwhile. I pinky promise. High school is nothing more than a stepping stone to your real life — so just get through it.
*Comments may have been paraphrased. Real comments may have been “writing lacks substance, is significantly over word length and lacks focus” (I think we need to have a little conversation on who decided it was satisfactory to give a 600 word maximum and expect a good story) “frequent grammatical and spelling mistakes”, “needs to spend time practicing basic (basic, my butt!) mathematical concepts”, and “difficulty had in comprehending sketches” (not my fault I’m a terrible drawer, if I wanted to be graded on my artwork I would have chosen to do Art, thanks very much).