My name is Sophie and I am currently studying a Bachelor of Pre-Medicine, Science and Health at the University of Wollongong. I hail from Broken Hill, NSW, a whole 1113 km away from the ‘Gong. I currently live in uni accommodation, a place called Weerona College, which is fully catered and full of some of the best people I have ever met.
I have wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember, which of course meant moving away from home for university. After doing a summer school at the University of Newcastle when I was 15 I knew I wanted to go to the ‘coast’ – it was so different to the red dirt I had grown up in.
Regardless of the distance, moving away for uni is an expensive exercise. There is accommodation, textbooks (especially if you are doing law/medicine/science subjects – ouch!), fees and general living expenses just to name a few.
I grew up with a single mother and even though I never wanted for anything, I also knew it would be very hard for my mum to put me through uni. Some degrees have a small enough number of contact hours (hours you are face-to-face with an academic at uni) that they can work enough to support themselves, but I have about 23 contact hours a week plus all my work so it leaves little time to make money.
So, at the start of year 12, I told my year advisor to let me know of any scholarships that crossed his desk.
My Nan and I spent every Friday or Saturday night for weekends on end just applying for different scholarships. To be frank this isn’t fun, no stressed out 17/18-year-old going through their HSC wants to spend their weekends applying for scholarships, but this is exactly why some scholarships/grant don’t even end up being given out.
You have to be in it to win it so I applied to every single scholarship, even if I only just met the criteria.
It is important to put effort into the process, especially if the application requires you to write a letter detailing why you deserve the scholarship. I had fantastic teachers who were always happy to help me write letters or be references for scholarships.
The interviews can be nerve-racking, especially if you were like me and had only gone to one job interview in your whole life. But you need to remember that they are listening to you because they want to help you and they understand how scared you are. The interviews, whether over the phone or in person, are never as scary as you think they will be.
I honestly love the university experience and it is so true when people say it is the best time of your life.
I have met so many new people and had so many new experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It is difficult at times, it is true when they say each semester is like a mini HSC, but nothing worth having comes without work.
I especially love living at college, there is such a strong community feeling, it is like having a big extended family that you know will be there if something goes wrong. There is so much support for anything academic or personal and I would recommend to any person going to university to spend at least their first year on college.
One of the biggest challenges of uni has been managing all the assignments/quizzes/assessments for all my subjects.
It isn’t like high school where your teachers will remind you when things are due. In university it is your responsibility to know when things need to be done and managing those within the timeframe.
Often a lot of things will be due all at the same time, especially if you do subjects in different faculties as they rarely communicate.
Read your subject outline (please!), get a big calendar and detail everything that is due because if you miss it for no other reason than just forgetting or poor time management you won’t be able to get an extension or second chance.
If you only take one lesson away from this blog post it would be this: don’t be afraid to try new things and get involved. There is so much to do at university that isn’t study.
This can be very overwhelming, especially if you are like me and like to see how much you can take on at one time, but it is also very exciting. It is a great way to make friends and network for the future.
While studying full time I also have two jobs working as a group fitness instructor, I work as a Student Recruitment Officer, study a Certificate 3 in Pathology, volunteer at Headspace, play netball and am a part of the Patient Simulation Program at UOW Graduate Medicine.
Don’t be afraid to go for roles even if you are convinced you won’t get them. Best-case scenario you succeed, worst case scenario you gain experience and knowledge so next time you are more likely to achieve it.
Take Sophie’s advice and check out as many scholarships as you can in our Scholarships Guide: