Back to Basics

Life is a balancing act

Studying in upper secondary school is one part of your life. You decide for yourself how important it is and how much time you spend on it. You need to divide your time between many aspects of life. Where you are present and what you spend your time on tell about the things that are important to you. For example, if you contact your friends often, it says that friends are important to you.

Sometimes you feel that there is not enough time for everything you would like to do. Sometimes you wish to have something in your life that is not yet there. One must sometimes struggle in order to attain something. Acknowledge your own way of spending time and consider what things you really think of as important in your life. There are no right or wrong answers, just your own insights.

Find your own strengths

  • What do you like?
  • What makes you smile?
  • Where do you feel relaxed?
  • What gives you strength?
  • Who do you like to be with?
  • Do the things you like to do!

Take notice if you do not feel enthusiastic about anything in many weeks, or if things that normally make you feel good do not interest you anymore.


You are growing and developing all the time. Proper food and regular meals will help your cells function better. Your brain is composed of nerve cells and you will need them to learn new things and to remember what you have already learned at school and during pastime activities. Take care of the nutrition of your nerve cells and they will reward you by working smartly. Cut down on alcohol because getting drunk means you are poisoning your nerve cells.


You need rest and sleep in order to learn and develop. Your brain works for you while you sleep. After you have rested you cope and feel better, are in a better mood and others will also think you are a nicer person.

Sometimes you may sleep badly. It is important to find out why your sleep is disturbed and if you can do something about it.

Calm the evenings for similarly recurring, unhurried routines. Set your alarm clock to go off at the same time every morning on weekdays, even if you feel tired. You can sleep longer on weekends. By waking up at the same time in the weekday mornings you are synchronizing your inner clock and sleep will come earlier little by little in the evening. Take only 15 minute naps.


Humans are meant to move but nowadays it is easy not to. Exercise will help you cope and raise your spirits. You can also release your stress and tensions with exercise.

Make use of your way to school or pastime activities by walking or cycling. Exercise that promotes health does not have to be all gritted teeth and lactic acid. The most important thing is to exercise a little every day.

Humans can concentrate on studying only for a moment at a time. Take a break every 1.5–2 hours at least. Do not sit still for longer than that, but instead get up, flex your muscles, walk or even dance a bit. This will accelerate your blood circulation and you will stay healthier.


Humans are a social species and working relationships are important for mental health.

Take care of your close ones and get to know new people. No one feels fully safe among strangers.

Say hello to familiar faces and ask how they are doing. When you acknowledge your friends at school and are ready to welcome new ones you are also creating a safe atmosphere.

According to studies, helping someone makes both the helper and the receiver of help happy. Even very small deeds can help. Sometimes it is enough that you acknowledge someone and express it to them.

Working through emotions

Things may happen in life that will upset you. Find your own way of recognizing your feelings and working with various feelings and thoughts.

  • Some people want to talk about things with others
  • Some write about their worries
  • Some look for information from the internet and make comparisons
  • Some play instruments and sing
  • Some draw and paint
  • One dances, another one runs and yet another lifts weights

What can you do? What would help you recognize your feelings and organize your thoughts?

Planning your studies

The guidance counsellor of your upper secondary school will help you with the planning of your studies. With the guidance counsellor you can also contemplate your future plans and map out your life after upper secondary school.

Help for studying

Many upper secondary school students need help with their studies. The most common learning problems arise from linguistic difficulties. Difficulties with reading or writing, such as slowness, inaccuracy, difficulties with reading comprehension, sentence structures or grammar, can complicate studying. Linguistic difficulties can also delay the learning of foreign languages.

However, learning problems do not prevent you from finishing upper secondary school or getting the ‘white cap’.

Upper secondary schools offer special support for students with learning difficulties. Students can get individual guidance or they can participate in the Taitava oppija course which takes in 15–20 students and is held by a special education teacher. You can enroll in the course through the guidance counsellor.

The aims of the course are to enhance the reading and writing abilities of the students, to help them find their own learning styles, to improve their studying skills with right kind of learning methods and studying techniques, and to strengthen their positive self-image as students.

Taitava oppija course is categorized as applied studies and it will not be assessed, just marked as passed. If needed, the special education teacher will conduct a reading test for the students participating in the course and help them with applying for special arrangements for the Matriculation Examination. More information below under Dyslexia testing and statements.

Dyslexia testing and statements

All first year students in the upper secondary schools of Turku will be tested with the dyslexia sieve. Students can also apply for a more detailed dyslexia test and ask for a statement about their possible dyslexia for the Matriculation Examination Board. The special education teacher may test the students who participate in the Taitava oppija course. If the student has mild dyslexia and a statement from the special education teacher, the student may get one grade raise maximum in the Matriculation Examinations in case the score is close enough to the higher grade. The same applies for examinees with moderate or severe dyslexia if they have not applied for special arrangements. The student must have the dyslexia statement before enrolling for to Matriculation Examinations.

Normally a moderate or severe dyslexia is taken into account in the Matriculation Examinations with special arrangements during the exams. The student must apply for special arrangements when enrolling for the exams for the first time at the latest. More detailed instructions can be found in Finnish at: