The measure of our success

General Exhibition winner James Haskis (2017) addressed the Hale Senior School at the Scholars' Assembly on 13 February 2018. Here is his advice on how to achieve success at school.

"Good afternoon Mr Dell’Oro, staff and students. About a week ago, Mr Bean asked me to present some advice on how to succeed in Year 12, particularly in the academic sphere. That got me thinking, how do we measure that kind of success? On stage there are perfect scores, exhibitions and prizes; yet to me such awards are measures of success that aren’t truly reflective of what a student achieves.

If, for example, someone is capable of a 99 ATAR and they end up with a 95, as impressive as that score may seem, to me that isn’t really achieving success. Conversely, if someone’s absolute best is an 82 ATAR and, with hard work and dedication, they get there; in my mind that’s a real success. I think that judging someone’s success in Year 12 comes down to whether or not they’re able to meet their full potential. That, I believe, should be a Hale Year 12s goal.

So, the question then becomes, how can you do as well as you possibly can in Year 12 at Hale? Broadly speaking, I think it boils down to two main areas: mindset and study; and that’s the advice I’d like to offer today.
First of all, mindset. If there’s one thing I learned from Exmouth, it’s that the guys who go to camp expecting it to be the worst time of their life inevitably have an awful time. It’s the same with Year 12. Those who succeed are the people who go in determined and motivated: It’s not about just getting through Year 12, it’s about making the most of every single day you’ve got left at Hale.

To optimise your mindset, and I’m sure that you’ve heard this before, it’s important to set yourself specific goals. For example, “I’m going to achieve a 93.50 ATAR”. What I think is more important, however, is that the goals you set yourself are challenging. Don’t cheat yourself and set the bar lower than your potential because you’ll regret it. Aiming for an 80 ATAR to scrape into a university course when you know that you’re capable of achieving an 85 is not the Hale way and its not a mindset which is conducive to success in Year 12 or in the future. Attack the year with the right mindset by not settling for less than your best.

That leads me to my second piece of advice regarding study. Once you have the right mindset, how do you actually go about studying? Importantly, it needs to be said that everyone studies differently, so its crucial to find out what works for you and to find out fast. Nonetheless, here are a few things that have helped me, which I think apply to everyone:
  1. Make the most of classroom time. If you waste just one minute each period, that adds to up to three days of missed school a year – you’ll regret that wasted time come exams.
  2. Your teachers are your best resource, the best resource in the State in fact – use them.
  3. Take advantage of the tutors available in the library after school. They’ve been through exactly what you’re going through now and found success, so use that knowledge and experience.
  4. Organise your time – your diary’s great for when you’re at school, but what about before and after? I used an outlook calendar to stay on top of things; find what works for you.
  5. Don’t fall behind early on. You don’t want to spend crucial revision time before exams learning something new just because you don’t bother to study this week.
  6. ATAR is a team game, helping your peers succeed helps you succeed, just remember that group study is not merely an excuse to catch up with your mates.
  7. Use ‘do not disturb’ on your phone to avoid the social media trap. Check your messages when you get home from school, set your phone to ‘do not disturb’ and don’t pick it up again until you’re finished studying that night. Memes and Tinder can wait. Turnitin can’t.
  8. Find a balance between your studies and everything else on offer at Hale. It’s okay and, in my opinion, incredibly beneficial to be busy and engaged, as long as you balance that commitment with your work.
  9. Staying physically fit and healthy will help you to study harder for longer. Stick with sports and training, use them to take a mental break and relax.
  10. One word: sleep. Just do it.
And finally, perhaps most importantly, number 11: actually put in the study hours. Everyone ends up busy at Hale, so when you sit down to do an hour’s worth of study, you need to do an hour’s worth of study. Don’t dilute it with 10 minutes of Facebook and five minutes daydreaming about leavers.

To conclude, I’d like to wish the Year 12s the very best of luck. To the rest of Senior School, I apologise for focusing so closely on the 12s, however the advice I’ve just given them is the same as I’d give you. The sooner you get started and into good habits, the better your own Year 12 experience will be. Ultimately, the message I hope you boys receive from me is simple: embrace a positive, determined mindset, and study hard and effectively. In doing so, you will achieve success."