Year 12 student, Marlie Olsson, has some solid advice for those wanting to get the best out of themselves studying VCE.

“Stay balanced, make time for yourself, and don’t focus solely on your studies,” she says. “Get out and exercise regularly, but if you can’t go to the gym and don’t feel like going for a run, do something at home.”

Marlie takes her own advice seriously and loves going to the Fernwood gym or doing some other exercise almost every day.

She plans to take a gap year after completing her VCE to have a good break before she launches into university in 2022. Marlie hopes to study Law at La Trobe Bendigo.

“There’s just something about Legal Studies.” she says. “I find anything said in class stays in my brain and when I am studying at home I really enjoy exploring extra stuff.”

Marlie’s Legal Studies teacher, Cindy, is also her Advisor and has inspired her ambitions to study Law.

Year 10 was Marlie’s first taste of the subject, but she didn’t take it up again until this year. Now she’s flying.

But it wasn’t always the case.

Marlie says that between Years 7 and 9 she “kind of phased out” and was more interested in being a cool kid whose focus was almost anywhere but her schoolwork.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like her 7 to 10 school, Crusoe College. She enjoyed her time there and really liked her teachers who she describes as being “very tolerant”.

These days, back on track, she is enjoying her time at BSSC.

Marlie arrived at BSSC with a group of friends from Crusoe and some of them have gone on to remain very close friends.

Her first class on her first day in Year 11 was a shaky start.

“I walked into the wrong class—a Year 12 English class,” she remembers all too well. “It could have been really embarrassing, but luckily I was with a friend and we could have a good laugh about it.”

BSSC has impressed Marlie with the freedom she has to manage her studies in ways that suit her best.

“I like being given that responsibility,” she says.

Legal Studies is, unsurprisingly, her favourite subject, but she’s also really enjoying English Language.

“My teacher Kathryn gives wonderful feedback and really understands how we all learn best,” Marlie says.

As well as Legal Studies and English Language, Marlie is studying Biology and Business Management, and often thinks about the challenges of teaching VCE.

“I think it’s such a task to guide students through Year 12,” she says. “Teachers are often so under-appreciated.”

Perhaps remote learning has given everyone a sense of the difference having a teacher ‘on tap’ can make. In Marlie’s case, she managed learning from home quite well although she found the first week pretty stressful.

“I think it was knowing I was not the only one that helped,” she says. “By the end of it I was pretty well adapted.”

The fact that Marlie suffers regular migraines makes her success at school even more impressive.

“I’ve been getting a migraine about every two weeks since I was in Year 9,” she explains. “I just go to bed and sleep them off.

“Dealing with it this year has been the hardest. The college has been very supportive but, for example, I had to delay a SAC last week because I had a migraine.”

As well as her relief at managing remote learning successfully, Marlie has been impressed by the way BSSC supported students over that time and how Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews, has led the state through the crisis—though she believes students should have to physically distance too.

“We can get sick from this,” she says, “and young people have died.”

On the global stage her concerns centre around the way environmental degradation is devastating wildlife that has no capacity to resist the consequences of habitat damage.

“Have you seen the bleached coral on the Barrier Reef?” she implores.

Closer to home, Marlie finds she is being kept on track to do her part by her mum who is an avid recycler. This influence is one she quickly names when asked who impresses her by their attitude and work for the environment.

“I admire anyone who works or volunteers for the sake of the natural environment,” she says. “The volunteers during the bushfires were amazing, the way they helped as many animals as they could. I saw a report of one person with about 23 koalas in their loungeroom.”

When asked what advice she would offer her 12-year-old self, Marlie says something that any student, or anyone who works for environmental preservation might take to heart.

“Don’t give up—even when you think you can’t do something, ask for help.”