VCE 2021: Finishing school in lockdown

Melbourne's Gurbani Minhas and Karan Singh share their experiences.

Reading Time: 4 minutes


The class of 2021 talks COVID and (high school) tests.


ATAR: Prefer not to say

Subjects: English, Biology, Chemistry, PE, Accounting and Maths Methods

Results/Special Awards: School Captain

School: Suzanne Cory High School, Melbourne

University Course: Bachelor of Medical Science/Doctor of Medicine, Monash University



ATAR: 97.65

Subjects: Mathematical Methods, Biology, Chemistry, English Language, Latin, Chinese Second Language.

School: Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School, Melbourne

University Course: Bachelor of Science, University of Melbourne.


With your Year 12 now behind you, you’ve probably had opportunity to look back at it all with some wisdom. What did you learn about yourself in the year 2021?

Karan Partap Singh: A key learning from this year is that resilience triumphs all. There were times when I thought that I had underperformed, due to a poor SAC mark or a poor practice exam, but it was important to keep myself level-headed and trust my preparation. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel frustrated or upset but I knew that the best way forward was to pick myself up, brush myself off, and try again.

Gurbani Minhas: Looking back at what perhaps may have been the most stressful period of my life yet, I cannot confidently say that I have no regrets. There are many things I wish I could have done differently, however all those decisions I made enabled me to reflect on my choices and further cultivate a new skill. I learned that I am a reflective person, further enabling me to discern my proclivity towards persistence and tenacity.


The past two years have caused a lot of uncertainty for students. How did you go about your studies while adapting to a changing health environment?

Gurbani: Learning in such an adverse environment provided me with a multiplicity of challenges. I had to keep up with the academic aspect of my life and simultaneously maintain my physical and mental well-being. I found that taking time out of my day to talk to my friends and family, and working out regularly, aided in mitigating the stress and pressure I’d been feeling.

Karan: I think it would be fair to say that the last two years have been nothing short of chaos. However, in order to keep on top of my studies, it was really helpful to have an end goal in mind, which was getting into my desired course. But most importantly, the most help came from my supportive family. They have always been extremely encouraging and have motivated me to try my best in all aspects of life. It’s something I will carry forward with me.


Young people are becoming increasingly aware of news and political affairs. What were your main news sources throughout the year?

Karan: My main sources were The Age and ABC News on the TV. I also obsessed about Victoria’s vaccination rates during our race to 90% double dose and to keep up with this, I followed @thedailyaus on Instagram.

Gurbani: I did constantly try to keep up with the news, whether it was through television or Instagram, both of which I used quite often.


After online classes, are you Team Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout or other?

Karan: Team Zoom, for sure!

Gurbani: Team Google Meet all the way!


What extra-curricular activities, hobbies, or TV shows helped you through the past two years?

Gurbani: Reading definitely helped me throughout. It provided a form of intellectual release, considering I did many science-based subjects. And of course, TV shows were always the perfect stress relief to get my mind off things for a while. Whenever I was feeling a bit dejected, I often turned to my favourite feel-good show Friends.

Karan: For the majority of my school journey, I’ve loved taking on leadership positions and getting involved in as many sports teams as possible. I was House Sport Captain in Year 11 and School Captain in Year 12 which were both extremely rewarding experiences that provided me with the opportunity to continually grow as a person.


Do you think nerds rule the world?

Gurbani: Speaking from a completely objective perspective, DEFINITELY!

Karan: Absolutely not. I strongly believe that those that have excellent people skills and an obsessive work ethic/discipline rule the world.


READ ALSO: HSC 2021: Finishing school in lockdown


What moments from 2021 do you remember most fondly?

Karan: There were a few standouts, like returning to face-to-face learning right before exams, as this was such a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with friends and teachers. Year 12 valedictory was another highlight because this allowed us students to reflect on the past few years, celebrating how far we’ve come and grown.

Gurbani: Spending time with my friends at school during the short periods we were out of lockdown are moments that I will likely never forget. Seeing each other after lengthened periods of time made us appreciate being together all the more.


What would your advice to future final year students be?

Karan: Take it as it comes. I think it’s very important to not shy away from the fact that it is a very difficult year; however if you break it down into smaller pieces, VCE becomes a lot less daunting. Moreover, it’s essential that you enjoy the grind. There will be times when you are studying for hours on end despite not feeling very motivated. But on the flip side it’s imperative that you make the most of your final year of school and immerse yourself within the school community to make those lifelong memories.

Gurbani: While it is important to work hard and be up to date with your studies, I’d recommend regularly spending time doing things outside of your academic life in order to prevent burnout, and enjoy a balanced VCE journey.


Favourite quote from a teacher?

Gurbani: “Practice makes perfect.” I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a saying which I will forever hold to heart.

Karan: “There’s nothing more you can do other than try your best.’’ Best teacher in the world: Mrs Ruddick.


Describe your final year in 3 words

Gurbani: Challenging. Engaging. Rewarding.

Karan: Challenging. Rewarding. Unforgettable.


READ ALSO: WACE 2021: Finishing school in lockdown

Manan Luthra
Manan Luthra
Writer, cricket fan, gin and tonic enthusiast. Emerging journalist passionate about art, sport, and education

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