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9 successful Aussie women share their final Year 12 mark. And whether it actually mattered.

All over the country right now, students are preparing to sit their final Year 12 exams. Whether it’s the HSC, SACE, WACE, VCE, QCS, NTCET, TASC or any other bizarre combination of letters, to some, it can feel like nothing else in the world matters except the result that turns up in December.

There’s a secret though. Well, it’s not really a secret. It’s something that’s yelled very loudly at Year 12 students over and over again by teachers and parents and cousins and family friends but they don’t listen because it sounds like a lie. 

But here it is.

It’s going to be okay no matter what.

Try your best by all means. But… how do we put this.

In the long run the mark you get means very, very little. Strangers on the street won’t stop you and demand you tell them your final result. You don’t have to wear it as a badge until the day you die. In fact, anyone you do tell will forget anyway because it’s so ridiculously insignificant.

So we decided to ask nine successful Australian women how they went in their Year 12 exams and if, in the long run, they think it really mattered.

Roxy Jacenko: 68

Founder and Director of Sweaty Betty PR, and author. 

I was the world’s worst student. I never got into uni because I didn’t have the marks. I had worked since I was 14, I was a florist and then I worked at Kodak.

My parents gave me a good schooling, I f*cked it up I never listened. I had no formal training.

Watch: Celebrities who went to school together. Post continues after video.

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Rachel Corbett: 99.35

Mamamia’s Head of Podcasts, co-host of The Project and founder of online podcasting course, Pod School.

I know plenty of incredibly successful people who didn’t do well in the HSC so if you’ve put in the time and effort but you don’t get a high mark it’s definitely NOT the end of the world.

However, that shouldn’t be an excuse not to give it a red hot crack because the better you do the more options you have.

When I got my results back from trials they weren’t good.  At all.  To be honest that was because I hadn’t put nearly enough effort into studying for them and it showed.  I wanted to do Law and I wanted to do it straight out of school so when the final exams came round I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. I literally shut myself in my room for the best part of a month and focused on nothing else but those exams and it was the best thing I could have done.

In the grand scheme of things, a month of my life was nothing but that month meant I got a mark that gave me a very important thing… choice.

If you don’t get the mark you want there is ALWAYS a way around it but one of the benefits of doing well is that you have options and that’s an incredibly empowering place to be.  Oh, and by the way, just because you get into the course you thought you wanted to be in doesn’t mean that’s your path either.  I knew the first week of my Commerce/Law degree it wasn’t going to be my path but I stuck it out almost to the end (I got my Commerce Degree but left Law with one year to go because I’d found a career path that was better suited to me).  But the people I met, the things I learned and the fact I’d gotten there by working my butt off were worth absolutely worth it.

Meshel Laurie: 72.7 

Comedian, radio and television host, author and host of Australian True Crime.

We had a TE score in Queensland. I graduated in 1990. The highest you could get was 990. I got 720. (This works out to a percentage of 72.7)

I immediately regretted worrying about school at all, not that I worried about it much. I was always of the mind that a good night’s sleep was more important than staying up studying.

Georgia Love: 95

Television presenter, journalist and former Bachelorette.

It did matter for me as the course I desperately wanted to do (journalism at RMIT) required 95! Ridiculous.

Jane Lu: 99.45

Founder and CEO of Showpo.

Year 12 exams are probably one of the hardest things at school you’ve had to go through so I get why it feels like such a big deal at the time! I think your exams only matter because they help determine what comes next. If you get the marks you needed to get into university, and that’s what you want to do then great. But if not, there are so many other options.

I studied so hard through high school to get the marks I needed to get into a university course, which led me into a career that actually really wasn’t for me. Then I quit my job and started a business in a completely different field that failed and then I started Showpo – a career that I absolutely love! And it really wasn’t my grades from high school that got me to where I am today, it was all the other skills and learnings that I picked up along the way.

I’m not saying don’t worry about your exams – the hard work definitely paid off because getting a good mark gave the confidence to back myself throughout this journey. So do your best and put in as much work as you can to get the grades you want, but if you don’t, learn from the experience and look at what you can do to get to where you want to be!

Leigh Campbell: Didn’t do it. 

Mamamia’s Executive Editor, host of You Beauty and resident beauty expert.

I didn’t finish high school, I left half way through Year 11. I just wasn’t academic – I excelled at recess and lunch and that was about it. I believe – and in my experience – natural talent and ability is more important and will take you further in some vocations than a certificate or diploma. If you are good at something and you enjoy it, pursue it and practise practise practise. (That being said, if you aspire to be vet or doctor, please get the appropriate education and don’t practise on the household rabbit.)

Erin Molan: 90.5

Sports presenter.

I got an OP6 (I think!!!) which is like the equivalent of a 90.5. It got me into 6 different courses at 4 different universities – all of which I dropped out of without so much as completing a unit! So it didn’t count for anything in the end. I knocked on doors, stalked and harassed my way into all of my early jobs, learnt whilst I was there and always worked harder than almost anyone else.

Laura Byrne: 89

Creative Director of ToniMay jewellery and former Bachelor contestant. 

I think my mark was 89 back when it was called the HSC. I remember being so disappointed that I had just missed out on a 90 score, which seems absolutely crazy now. I worked my ass off for that test, and at the time it felt like my entire future was resting on the outcome. Hindsight is a funny thing, it turned out that my HSC had absolutely no bearing on my career. I am now the Creative Director for ToniMay jewellery, it just took me a little while to realise that I could have a creative career and that jewellery didn’t just have to be a hobby.

Steph Claire Smith: 56(ish) 

Model, author, host of KIC POD and co-founder of Keep It Cleaner. 

I can’t even remember the exact enter score, I think it was 56 or 58. All I remember was that it was 1 point lower than my brother haha. It didn’t faze me. All my subjects I loved were ones that got marked down, and the courses I was thinking of going into after high school I was able to go to Tafe for, so I never really aimed for a particular score.

I wasn’t naturally academic and I was okay with that, I just did my best. It obviously totally depends on the career path you’d like to take, in saying that, I’m now a business owner and never studied business! As long as each student is only focusing on their own goals and their own score and doing their best, that’s all that should matter.

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