As Year 12 student, Jack Jeffrey, prepares for his VCE exams he has instinctively been practising a very effective method of embedding information into his brain—and being able to retrieve it when he needs it—practice exams.

In fact, asked about his Hot Study Tip, Jack does not hesitate. “Do practice exams,” he replies. “As many as you can!”

During Years 10 and 11, when Jack studied VCE Psychology, he learnt about memory retrieval and how to strengthen his capacity for it. But this is not the only reason he recommends practice exams as a brilliant study technique.

“They also set you up for the types of questions you’ll be asked, which are often designed to be tricky,” Jack points out.

Jack remembers his first day at BSSC, arriving with a group of mates from Bendigo South East, feeling optimistic about being at Senior.

“It was nowhere near as unnerving as the change from primary school to BSE,” he says. “BSSC has been a positive experience, and the freedom to choose from such a wide range of subjects has really set me up for the future.”

Jack elected to study Maths Methods, Chemistry, Legal Studies, English Language and German Language and says all his teachers have been “really good” and “really helpful”.

Like most students he does have a couple of particular favourite subjects, and finds that German and English Language perfectly complement each other.

By learning in English Language how languages are constructed and develop, Jack says he’s having ‘hands on’ experience as he develops his skills in his second language, German.

“I began German studies at BSE and kept going partly because my sisters encouraged me to,” he says. “I’m so glad I did. I really like it and I’m doing well.”

Jack also loved visiting Germany in 2018.

His family have friends there and Jack’s experience of the scenery, the people, the food and the incredible efficiency of things such as the public transport system, all made him want to one day return and confirmed his decision to stick with the language.

If Jack has his way, he will soon be studying Medicine at Monash University and one day will work, at least for a while, in Germany.

“Medicine is a really interesting job with so many options to work in diverse settings or specialise in something that really captures my interest,” he says.

There are also lots of pathways into medicine and while Jack hopes to get an ATAR that makes things straightforward, he knows there is more than one way to skin this cat!

Jack has also nominated science and biomedicine at a number of other universities as alternatives—and both courses can segue into medicine if this is the path he finds himself travelling.

Jack’s natural openness to future possibilities also leaves him comfortable with the idea of working in a variety of settings—from rural medicine to city hospitals.

“When I first came to senior I wasn’t settled on what I was aiming for,” Jack says. “I’d been interested in VCE Psychology and completed that during Year 10 and Year 11. I also picked up Legal Studies in case the Law turned out to be my preference.”

Given human health will become a major focus for Jack, he is naturally concerned about Climate Change and believes it’s something we should all be taking very seriously.

However, Jack believes the pandemic has made Climate Change take a back seat and recognises some of the ‘Catch-22’ situations we find ourselves in.

“For example, we’re seeing people using things like plastic coffee cups again,” he points out. “And while we have to do this for hygiene reasons, it’s bad news for the environment.”

Jack also nominates the refugee crisis as a global issue of deep concern.

“I think we need to take the time to find out more about the people who are seeking asylum in Australia,” he says. “We could be so much more accepting of people than we are.

“I’m really glad my parents taught us about how important it is to be accepting of others.”

As a consequence of his concerns, the people Jack admires are those who are actively trying to make a difference.

“Especially people my age who go to rallies, who speak out on social media, or protest in other ways,” he says.

Jack also admires the way the pandemic has been handled in Australia. He doesn’t necessarily say it’s all been perfect, but acknowledges the huge efforts that have been made.

“I think Dan Andrews has made decisions that are not popular but are designed to save lives,” Jack says. “He’s gone out every day to face the people for weeks and weeks now, and he’s had to say hard things he knows he will be criticised for.”

Like many students, the pandemic has impacted Jack’s relationships with his friends and he really misses face to face conversations.

He’s also found getting hold of teachers is more complicated than when the college is running normally, though overall he has managed his learning remotely without too much difficulty.

He’s also been able to keep up all his extra-curricular interests and hobbies because they do not rely on anyone else—which is just sheer good luck.

“We have two dogs I try to walk every day, and I also read widely,” he says. “I like action/thriller films and I’m a fan of alternate/Indi music.”

As Jack looks to the future, and his hopes to one day work in Germany, he admits to not always being the type of person who’d take on such adventures.

Reflecting on the past, he’s proud of the way he has matured into someone intent on a stimulating career… and willing to work hard to get there.

If Jack could go back and give his 12-year-old self some advice it would reflect that journey.

“Be confident. Take risks. Do stuff you might not expect yourself to do. There are opportunities you will miss if you don’t.”