BSSC Year 12 student, Annika van Strijp, is justifiably proud of the changes she has made in her life over the last 12 months.

Reflecting back over her 7-10 college years, Annika says she gradually became anti-school with an overwhelming feeling she just didn’t fit in.

Annika moved schools a couple of times but it made no difference—she gradually disconnected from her education. Covid had brought its own challenges, and online learning only worked for a while.

Towards the end of Year 10 she considered leaving school altogether.

“My mental health really suffered and it took a lot of work to get back on track.”

As life returned to some normality, Annika realised she needed to put her wellbeing first.

“I stuck with it even though I lost some friends because of it,” Annika says.

Once gyms reopened, she began exercising regularly and made decisions grounded on what was best for her mental and physical health.

At the end of Year 10 she decided to give school one more shot—by attending Step Up at BSSC.

In truth she had little faith BSSC would be any different to the other colleges she had attended.

“I wanted this to work and challenged myself: ‘You haven’t ever given your education a real shot. Why not see where BSSC might take you?’.

“It was nerve-wracking to start at yet another completely new school and I didn’t sleep properly the night before.

“But what I discovered was all this support and all these opportunities.

Annika connected with fellow-students from many different schools and found her teachers were really interested in her learning.

When she got her first round of SAC results she was surprised she had passed everything.

“Something shifted in me. I thought ‘okay, you can do this’.”

Annika says she “kicked the brains into gear” and “completely changed direction” just when she really needed to.

Year 11 ended on a positive note and Annika spent a lot of time during the Christmas holidays ensuring she had done all the preparation for Year 12.

“This is my year,” she says, “and I’m going to make it my year.

“If I could go back to when I was just starting secondary college, and give myself some advice, I would say; ‘Everything happens for a reason. The challenges ahead of you will make you a better person, able to see life from a much wider perspective’.”

Annika would love to see more resources aimed at students who—like she used to—tend to ‘drift’.

“I think they need to catch a fresh idea of what they’re capable of—maybe through workshops or tutoring or a buddy system.”

Annika enjoys the more uni-style of teaching and learning that BSSC offers and would definitely recommend the college.

“I have friends at other colleges I try to convince them to move here!

“The way we’re allowed to use frees means you can take responsibility for your learning. I love this. Sometimes I’ll go to the public library to study. Sometimes I just need some food!”

This year Annika’s studying: Business Studies, Legal Studies, Sociology, Psychology and English Literature.

She’s aiming to keep a balance between life at school and life away from school and believes using your time effectively is so important.

“I’ve set up a schedule each week so I know when I’ll be at school, when I’ll studying, and where the breaks are. Yet, it’s not rigid.

“I think students really need to use every recommendation and resource our teachers tell us about.

“I use cue cards, summaries and practice questions to help me study and I look at all the textbooks and videos we will be using before I get to class.”

Annika has set up her phone up so she can’t access it during study periods and has cut her presence on social media in half.

“I actually think being on social media makes your self-confidence worse if you’re struggling.

“I’d love to see social media become more positive and offer support to people using their platform.”

Annika is also part of the CHES project.

The Centre for Higher Education Studies (CHES) offers high-ability senior secondary school students access to first-year
university subjects and an enrichment program.

“I saw CHES information on Compass in mid-Year 11 and wanted to do it. The process was actually quite frustrating—I only found out I’d been accepted at the start of 2023.”

Annika attends Melbourne Uni each week and is enjoying two first-year Psychology subjects and meeting other Psychology CHES participants.

“Psychology is very interesting to study—especially for someone like me who wants to know how people work and understand why they do what they do, including criminals.”

CHES will help confirm if Annika wants to study Psychology at tertiary level.

She is planning to take a gap-year next year and go backpacking through Europe and reconnect with family in Holland.

When she returns she hopes to study a double degree in either Criminology and Law, or Criminology and Psychology, at Melbourne Uni or ANU.

Meanwhile, Annika works at K-Mart and keeps close with her friends.

“I’m so grateful for my family and friends—I couldn’t wish for better people—they have seen me in every aspect and never stopped loving me.”

Annika’s sister, who lives in the UK, is someone Annika would love to have more conversations with.

“I need to ask her, ‘how did you do this? How did you know this move was the right one for you?’.

She’s built a really successful business and is a huge inspiration to me.”