Jake Slaytor, co-founder of threefourfive, a new online mentoring platform for HSC students, has just realised he’s pleasantly surprised.
Standard levels of HSC stress dread aside, the Arts/Law student, can see how fun his last year of high school actually was.
“Although there was a lot of study and work, the social aspect was great – I had a lot of awesome experiences.”
Friend and co-founder, fourth year Commerce/Law student, Max Glanville, has similarly happy memories. “I really enjoyed my year. I was doing subjects I really liked and remember how close everyone in our year became.”
Only a few years removed from their final exams, the Honours students’ collegial year 12 experiences stand in contrast with the graduating class of 2020, whose academic year has been disrupted by the uncertainty that surrounds COVID-19.
Studying in isolation, away from the classroom and their friends, HSC anxiety is at an all-time high for this year’s high school seniors.
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Jake first began to hear just how stressed the 2020 cohort are from the students he privately tutors.
“At the same time, Max was in quarantine for two weeks and we were calling once a day or so to check in and keep each other accountable with uni work,” recalls Jake. “A lot of our friends from university were also at home with little to do.”
In an effort to support HSC students during their final year, Jake and Max began reaching out to their friends, with the goal of creating a free platform that matches high school students with mentors who have recently finished high school.
From there, threefourfive was born.
“We know how hard Year 12 can be, let alone when there are unprecedented interruptions to all aspects of life. At the same time, the program gives university students, who have some spare time, a genuinely meaningful thing to do,” says Jake.
The program draws its name from a simple, effective format: students and mentors catch up remotely three times a week, covering four topics that maximise effective study (time management, study skills, tracking progress, and goals), five minutes a session.
“Each students' time is valuable, so each conversation is short and to the point,” explains Max. “The program was the consequence of realising the power that exists in a phone call from a trusted friend. They give you someone to be accountable to, while also someone to report to.”
Mentors are assigned to give students what they’re looking for - someone who knows what they’re going through, has similar interests, and can help them get to where they want to go
At launch, threefourfive counted 18 mentors; in the intervening weeks, the roster has grown to comprise some 75 students – including 65 University of Sydney undergraduates – from across a range of disciplines including Arts, Law, Science, Education, Medicine, Engineering, Commerce and Music.
“Some have gone on gap years, others have had business internships. Some are maths whizzes, others love books. Some are musical, others are sporty – we even have an Olympian,” says Jake.
According to the team, the students and mentors that have been meeting over the last few weeks has led to positive results.
“We’ve had some great stories about improvements in study techniques, helping students decide on their plans for next year, and helping develop a healthy and productive fitness routine."
Current HSC student, Lucinda Wertheimer, heard about threefourfive through a friend and began meeting up with University of Sydney Economics/Law student, Gabi Stricker-Phelps, a few weeks ago. Together, they work through the fundamentals of year 12 study - time management, goal setting, prioritising, and maintaining work/life balance.
Gabi is helping me put things in perspective and stress less, knowing I have someone who has been through Year 12 and is there to support me.
To date, the program has grown via word of mouth and with mentors directly contacting students they’ve been told are in Year 12.
But the co-founders would like to see threefourfive continue to expand, with plans to develop the program into an online community of students, for students, complementing the current one-on-one model with group study sessions, virtual libraries, webinars, and free tutoring services for specific HSC subjects.
“If we have made a positive impact on just one student, whether that be by giving them an extra bit of motivation, helping them choose a degree that’s right for them, or simply giving them someone to talk to, we will be satisfied,” says Jake.
“We would love to see all the threefourfive students reach their potential and get the most out of their final year of school.”
To find out more about threefourfive, visit the official website.