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Post Grad Advice

OPINION | CULTURE | LIFESTYLE

Written by Meoghan Craig (she/her) | Contributing Writer


Illustration by Eris Mardi (they/them) | Contributing Illustrator


Everyone has something they wish they could redo.


Moments you wished you had the mindset you have now, the emotional maturity, work ethic or the foresight to take a different path. But have you ever actually been able to do it?


The truth is there is nothing that has truly made me feel this way more than university. In 2020, my third and supposedly final year, COVID-19 struck. On top of the traditional hard-ships of studying, this cherry on top was the beginning of an academic downward spiral. Don’t get me wrong, I managed to graduate with my Bachelor of Communications - but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.


Since then it’s been a busy couple of years.


At some point as the new year ticked over, something changed. Whether it was my mentality or something else entirely, the feeling of something unfinished gnawed at me. I realised the moment study became all too much back in 2020 was the moment I turned away from a goal of mine that hadn’t faded since.


"Do I dare go back to University?"


Maybe all of the academic hardships I faced have built up a stronger and more prepared person, capable of facing tertiary education one more time.


Now, I’m about to start my postgraduate. New feelings of excitement and anxiety are dancing around the front of my mind. But while this will be a brand new kind of struggle, I know that I have enough in my university arsenal to sup-port myself. Everything that went wrong I can avoid, and the things I can’t I will face.


In that same way, if I had known back in my first year everything I know now I could have done so much better. So while I may not be able to go back in time and change those things, I know there is a lot I can share with anyone else who is worried or scared walking into their first year.

We can do it together. Consider me a figurative first-year post-grad who’s ready to pass down their know-how to you, the hypothetical first-year undergrad, who might also need all the help I did.


AT Student Discount


As someone who was and still is a licence-free queen of public transport, the tertiary student discount is a BLESSING. I am beyond happy to be having it back. Anyone who is studying at AUT gets a tertiary discount for as long as their course takes place. For example, studying for a standard bachelor’s degree means for three years you will get 20%-30% off each trip on trains, buses and ferries.


It is the easiest thing in the world to set up if you have the AT app. Open the menu, hit tertiary concessions, add in your tertiary provider, take a photo of your student ID for review and you’ll have your discount up and running in no time at all!


AUT Library


The first and biggest difference I encountered with university vs high school was purely the jump in level expected in your writing. It can be jarring, and possibly take a toll on your assignments if you’re unprepared.


The AUT Library not only provides any student with a plethora of writing examples, but they also put on workshops in both digital and physical spaces. There are workshops aligned to help with getting to know AUT’s resources, learning a style of writing, and ways of referencing. Each aligned at all levels of study from undergrad to master’s.


As a baseline, I found the following to be the most helpful:(1) Finding Library Resources for Assignments, (2) Academic Writing, (3) How to Write Reflectively and (4) APA Referencing.

In due time you will become familiar with the APA 7th referencing system in all its glory. Let me tell you now that you will want to investigate that particular workshop sooner rather than later.


Student Hub Resources


If you are having any kind of difficulty while studying, the Student Hub is the place to go. It runs as the link between you and the facilities you might not know of but need. They’ll help you if you’re overwhelmed, struggling financially, or need disability support; Rainbow students and those struggling with technology can get support too.


The first time I set foot into the Student Hub was because I was experiencing personal circumstances that were weighing on me so heavily that my assignments were suffering. Within ten minutes of talking with an advisor she had set me up with academic support. She told me that life throws unexpected things at people and there is no shame in asking for the help you need. My tutors were informed and linked to the solutions. I walked away from that meeting with a plan and a support net that helped me through the rest of that semester successfully.


Disability Support


Speaking of academic support, I feel it is very necessary to specifically mention AUT’s Disability Support. Disabilities come in all fashions with different needs to support each unique person. Going through the services myself allowed me to see the full spectrum of support systems they have available.


I’m dyslexic, so my disability falls under the umbrella of a ‘learning disability’. Like many people who have a learning disability it also comes ingrained with feelings of academic inadequacy. Please, please do not let that get in the way of your success at university. The Disability Support team can help your work to be at the best level it can be.


Talk to your tutors


I cannot stress this point enough. Alongside presenting their lectures and teaching their tutorials, tutors will never turn someone away who needs extra guidance and clarification.


I never asked for any help during my first year. I’m sure that came down to me not wanting to look stupid or even just personal judgment that I should just be able to work it out on my own. But thinking like that gets a person nowhere in academia. Talking to my tutors became a habit over the course of my second year and then second nature in my third.


Ask questions live as they’re talking, take a few extra minutes during or after class face-to-face, or, if you feel uncomfortable going up to them in person, send them an email. I did this every time there had been content that I couldn’t seem to understand. I was given extra resources, pointed to bonus readings or a quick explanation that helped the information to click. Tutors who see that you want to learn will always actively help you. As good as any tutor is, no one can fully help those who don’t put out their hand.


While these services were the ones I personally used, many friends of mine used counselling and mental health services, LGBTQIA+ services, utilised scholarship student support, Maori and Pacific student support, and so on.


But that’s enough from me. This piece is for you, my friend. I hope this makes even the smallest part of your university life easier to navigate. As you head into this new year of study, remember that even though there is much to learn you have so many people behind you.


Everyone has something they wish they could redo. Together let’s make sure university isn’t yours.

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