Hello, my name is Ashleigh Scanlan, I graduated from Glenfield College in 2014, and I am now currently in my fourth year of university, studying law, gender studies, and anthropology.
If you’ve been waiting for a sign or a message, this is it. If you, just like I did, want to pursue further education, you have, just like every other high school student in New Zealand, 100% every right to.
But let me tell you, it is not easy.
I think my high school teachers would describe me, as a student, as possibly annoying, possibly frustrating, maybe a little full on?
But I think I prefer persistent, driven, and determined.
I believe the key to my success at school was always asking questions. How can I make this piece of work better? But what does that actually mean? Asking questions when I didn’t fully understand and always asking for a little bit more – I want to know more, I want to understand more.
All I’m going to say is if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
The other huge key to my success at school was my hard work. I like to believe that rather than taking a back seat with my learning, I was in the drivers seat. I knew I wanted to get into and go to university, and I knew that sitting around hoping it would all fall into place wasn’t going to cut it.
But by no means was I a perfect student for all 5 years of school; I definitely had a moment when I realised that I could have direction and what direction I wanted to go. There was a difference between the Ashleigh who went to school because she had to and the Ashleigh who milked school for everything it was because I had other places I wanted to go.
When you want something as bad as I wanted to get into university, hard work takes no effort at all. I worked hard so that I was could be in a position where it was irrefutable that I was going to go to university after high school – that was my end goal and I did everything in my power to make it happen.
I applied to the University of Auckland to study a BA/LLB. When I found out I was accepted, I was over the moon – hard work really does pay off. But the cherry on the cake was being offered a scholarship to study at the University of Auckland. I was proud of myself and I was humbled; my hard work and determination had been recognized, and they were being rewarded.
So I say to you all, enjoy high school because it so much fun, but remember that the 5 years of high school is the path you walk to open the doors to the rest of your life, and its up to you to make the most of it.
In my last year of high school everyone told me “Ash you’ll love uni; it’ll suit you so much” but no one told me how hard university study actually is.
So I’m going to do you all a favour and tell you that university is really hard. My first year of uni, I was naïve and ignorant. I assumed that because I did so well at high school, uni would be a walk in the park. I actually had a really bad academic first year and was super disappointed with myself. If I was made more aware of what I was actually getting into, I think I would have been more prepared for how challenging and different uni was going to be.
So these are my top tips I’ve learned over my four years at uni:
- Go to class and pay attention from the first day of semester because content is taught immediately. I assumed nothing important was going to happen until at least half way through the semester – boy was I wrong.
- Everyone thinks the best thing about uni is that you don’t actually have to go to class – technically this is correct there is no attendance collected like at school. But going to class actually makes a huge difference to how well or not you do with assignments and exams – surprisingly, you seem to know and understand a whole lot more from your course. Just remember that lecturers are professionals in their subjects, and they also do all the marking, so it pays to go and listen to what they have to say.
- Do your readings for your classes. Rather than walking into a lecture with zero knowledge, I find doing the reading beforehand gives you a basic understanding of what is going to happen in a lecture and provides the lecture with some context. Or, if you do the readings after the lectures, it reaffirms or presents the lecture content in different way so you have a better understanding of what your lecturer is actually trying to say to you.
I know this all might sound scary, but despite all that I have said I love uni. The friends that I have made over the past four years have come from all over Auckland and from all over New Zealand, are people I will be friends with for the rest of my life. But with law school, not only will they be my friends they are my future colleagues, and it’s so cool to have come up along side them. It might sound really geeky, but I love the law and the workings of the law in New Zealand, and I really can’t wait to practice law myself. I also love the other subjects that I am studying and how they have broadened my knowledge and understanding of the way our society and world works. Once I got into the swing of things, uni has been a really awakening, enlightening, and an enjoyable experience. I truly credit my pursuit of higher education to who I am and how I am today.
Lastly I would like to finish with how I think you and I are the same in this moment in time.
For some of you, it’s your last couple of years of school, and you’re contemplating what to do next, considering university options?
For me, I have 4 more semesters of my degrees to go so that’s exactly 2 years. I am contemplating what life will be like after university, considering law firms and job opportunities.
I reckon that if I can work super hard, and really make these last two years of my degree count, I will find myself a law firm who will offer me a grad job.
Then those of you who are in the last few years of high school can really make these last few years count, too, and move onto university education if that’s what some of you want to do next.
Ultimately we are both in the same position, I’m just a few years ahead of the game than you.
So rather than goodbye, I’ll say see you round campus.