St Michael’s students have a long history of continuing to tertiary study and into various post school pathways. Following the recent release of VCE results, many of our Class of 2018 have achieved an ATAR that will enable them to take the next step into their chosen field.

But what does the culmination of 13 years of schooling feel like, and how do you cope with the pressures leading up to VCE exams? To give us an insight into what it’s like, we asked some of our students to share their story and tips for future VCE students.


Clare Olding (12H)

This year, Clare Olding was awarded the Prize For An Outstanding Achievement By A Girl In The Area Of Science at Speech Night, was Captain of Outdoor Education, pursued her passion for sailing, shaved her head during the Merry Month of May to raise money and awareness for the Leukaemia Foundation and took on the challenging VCE subject mix of Physics, Chemistry, English, Product Design & Technology and Mathematical Methods to achieve a remarkable ATAR of 98.1.

“I find it really interesting how often people say Chemistry, Methods and Physics are a challenging subject mix, because I found that those were the three that fitted in together and complemented each other the best. I could easily switch between the three in my study,” said Clare. “It was adding a folio subject (Clare scored 49 in Product Design & Technology) that made my mix challenging, as the workload required for a folio is enormous, and I had to be able to switch from very technical thinking, to a much more creative headspace.”

“In terms of fitting sport into an already busy year, it wasn’t so much something that I had to juggle, as it was a welcome relief from the stress of the school world. Sport, particularly sailing, became much less competitive than previous years, and much more of an outlet for me,” said Clare. “In saying this however, I still competed in a handful of regattas and did a fair bit of hiking – I even did the Overland Track (in Tasmania) in July. I found this really important in giving myself a break from study and also a bit of perspective.”

clare2

Every student faces their own set of unique challenges during Year 12, and for Clare, she faced a serious personal challenge.

“I’d have to admit that I did find the second half of this year pretty hard for a couple of reasons. I managed to get pretty unwell at the start of Term 3 and ended up spending a couple of weeks in hospital instead of my classes, and although I was very lucky and bounced back quickly – I had a huge amount of support from my family and the School – I still found it challenging to catch up academically,” said Clare.

Despite overcoming challenges throughout the year, Clare had many highlights.

“It’s pretty hard to narrow one down! I’d definitely have to say the Merry Month of May and seeing all the generous donations come through when I shaved my head was a huge highlight, as well as seeing everyone else’s hard work resulting in smashing the School record for funds raised,” said Clare.

“On a different note, I also found working with some of the Prep and Year 1 students for my Design and Technology (DT) project incredibly rewarding as they were super helpful – and very cute – in every stage of the process, and watching them enjoy the final product as much as they did was a pretty awesome feeling. I also found out I made it into Top Designs the other day, which was really cool, because that’s been my goal for DT since about Year 9!”

Clare's project was a redesign of the school desk and chair for early primary school aged children with learning difficulties. Clare incorporated elements such as movement, curves and storage to make the classroom an easier space to learn.

Clare’s project was a redesign of the school desk and chair for early primary school aged children with learning difficulties. Clare incorporated elements such as movement, curves and storage to make the classroom an easier space to learn.

Clare suggests that it was involvement in the School’s Outdoor Education Program, and her role as Outdoor Education Captain, that provided her most memorable experiences during her time at St Michael’s.

“Definitely the outdoor education program, and also my role as Outdoor Ed Captain this year,” said Clare. “It’s an interesting one though, because if you asked me that question in Year 7 it almost certainly wouldn’t be answer. Out of all the opportunities offered by St Michael’s, the Kosi trip (hiking and rafting from Mount Kosciuszko to the Coast) last year has got to be the one I found most incredible, and really gave me a lot of the perspective that was so useful throughout Year 12.”

On hearing that she had been awarded the Prize For An Outstanding Achievement By A Girl In The Area Of Science at Speech Night, Clare was “quite surprised!”

“I’ll definitely be continuing science in my tertiary studies, hopefully in the area of biomedical engineering. Physics in particular I really hope to continue, as I find almost every branch of the subject really fascinating, from subatomic particles to astronomy,” said Clare.

Having thrown herself into so many areas, overcome unique challenges and achieved a remarkable ATAR, all whilst keeping the year in perspective, what advice does Clare have for future VCE students?

“In terms of staying focused throughout the year, I found that it was better to just take things week by week and only focus on doing what needs to get done during that week so you don’t get overwhelmed,” said Clare. “It is hard to give advice though, just because everyone’s brain works differently, but I do think when people talk about balance they’re right. People always say to not let your ATAR define you and I think the best way to do that and keep your head in the right space throughout Year 12 is to keep up your non-academic passions and have some goals and things planned that have nothing to do with the classroom. It’s also really important to think longer term than the end of the year and your results, so that no matter what number you get at the end of the year it doesn’t really affect how you view yourself as a person.”

Next year Clare is planning on working and following her sailing passion, with hopes to race in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race!

“My current plans consist of working pretty much full time at the sailmakers I worked at on and off during the holidays this year, catching up on all the sport – especially sailing – that I largely put on hold for the last 12 months, and a fair bit of travel as well,” said Clare. “My main goal is to compete in the Sydney to Hobart at the end of the year. After that, the current plan is to study a double degree in Biomedical Engineering and Design at Swinburne, but I’m definitely keeping an open mind and could end up doing something completely different.”

We wish Clare all the best next year and beyond, and hope to be watching her at the Sydney to Hobart at the end of next year.


Up Next

A student's guide to tackling Year 12 and excelling at VCE: Jemma Hunter

In Year 12 Jemma was selected for the U19 Australian Lacrosse squad, captained the St Michael’s Senior Girls Football team to the inaugural ACS Girls Football premiership, received a Gold Award for Cross Country (Jemma's year again won the Girls Year Level Pennant at the ACS Cross Country Carnival), and excelled in the classroom. But how did she manage to stay focused and perform in such a diverse range of activities?

Learn more