BSSC Year 12 student, Annika van Strijp, is justifiably proud of the changes she has made in her life over the last 12 months.
Annika looks back over her 7-10 college years and says she gradually became anti-school with an overwhelming feeling she just didn’t fit in. By the end of Year 10 she was considering leaving school altogether.
Covid had brought its own challenges and online learning only worked for a while. Annika moved schools a couple of times but it made no difference. She basically disconnected entirely from school.
“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.
She began going to the gym regularly once they reopened and made decisions grounded in what was best for her mental and physical health.
“I stuck with this even though I lost some friends because of it,” Annika says.
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.
“But, I wanted this to work and I challenged myself: ‘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.”
“What I discovered was all this support and all these opportunities.”
Annika was connecting 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” right when she needed to.
Year 11 ended on a positive note and Annika turned the Christmas holidays into a time of preparation for Year 12—arriving on the first school day of 2023 having done all study preparation.
“This is my year,” she says, “and I’m going to make it my year.” I
She’s also joining the Student Leadership Team (SLT) this year and would love to see more resources aimed at those students who 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.
“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!”
Annika also works at K-Mart and keeps close with her friends.
These days she would definitely recommend BSSC.
“I still have friends at other colleges and I try to convince them to move here.”
During Year 12 Annika’s aiming to keep a balance between life at school and life away from school. She says one of the most important things is to use your time effectively.
“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.
“I think students really need to use every recommendation and resource your teachers tell you 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 in half her presence on social media.
“I actually think being on social media makes your self-confidence worse if you’re struggling.
“I’d love to see platforms become more positive and even offer support to people using their platform.
“In contrast, 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.”
One of these people is Annika’s sister who lives in the UK—someone Annika would love to be able to spend more time with.
“She built a really successful business and is a huge inspiration to me. I need to ask her; ‘How did you do this? How did you know this move was the right one for you?’.”
Keeping organised and doing well in every subject is challenging—especially when, like Annika, you put pressure on yourself to do really well.
This year her subjects are: Business Studies, Legal Studies, Sociology, Psychology and English Literature.
She’s also part of the CHES project.
The Centre for Higher Education Studies (CHES) is a program offering high-ability senior secondary school students access to first-year university subjects as well as an enrichment program.
“I saw information about CHES 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.
She is studying two first-year Psychology subjects this year and really enjoying it even though she is required to attend Melbourne Uni each week.
Annika believes CHES is a great way to confirm that she really wants to study Psychology at tertiary level.
“Psychology is a very interesting area to study—especially for someone like me who wants to know how people work and understand why they do what they do. Including criminals.”
She is also really enjoying meeting other Psychology CHES participants.
Next year she has great plans for a gap-year backpacking through Europe and reconnecting with family in Holland.
When she returns she hopes to head to uni to study a double degree in either Criminology and Law or Criminology and Psychology at Melbourne Uni or ANU.
Future plans are yet to unfold but Annika already knows this course will lead to a wide choice of careers.
“If I could go back and give myself some advice, I would say this: ‘Everything happens for a reason. The challenges ahead of you will make you a better person and able to see life from a much wider perspective’.”