Passing on lessons for how to make the most out of your ANU and CASS Community
Some of life’s best lessons are learnt through experience, though others are learnt through chance encounters and accidental finds on the internet. This article does not intend to give you tips on how to do well at uni or any sort of advice. Instead, I simply wish to pass on the little pearls of wisdom I have accumulated throughout my years at ANU. I hope people stumble across this and learn a little something about what ANU or their specific CASS community has to offer them.
In 2015 I graduated with a Bachelor of Policy Studies and Bachelor of Commerce. Now, after taking 2016 off from study to volunteer on the US Presidential Election Campaign, I have returned to my home away from home, CASS, and specifically the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) to complete my Honours Year Program in Political Science. My initial decision to study at the ANU came after finishing school with a strong interest in Politics. In addition to its innovative and award-winning programs, the ANU being so close to Federal Institutions, Agencies and Departments also drew me to study here. Though it was the CASS and SPIR community which drew me back to complete Honours. My lecturers and Honours Supervisor encouraged me to peruse my interest of participating in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Presidential race and allowed me to defer my studies. They remained in contact throughout 2016 and welcomed me back to the program this year.
In my six-ish years of being a part of the ANU community my university experience has been reliant on, and enhanced by, the support, encouragement, and guidance of others. Considering I am (likely) in my final year of study it is important I pass on these six little gems. Some of which have come from fellow students, lecturers, and others are just little titbits from my own experience.
1) ANU is considered one of the best universities in the country and globally for a reason! When I was first applying for university to commence in 2012, ANU was ranked first in the country and 24th in the world. Now, ANU remains first in Australia but has risen to 20th in the world. Further, ANU is currently ranked sixth in the world for Politics and International Studies. These figures showcase ANU’s commitment to research, innovation, and excellence.
While, there are many things which make ANU world renowned, one important element is the type of academic staff it attracts. In addition to being brilliant thinkers and leaders in their respective fields, CASS academics are incredibly approachable, supportive and willing to offer their assistance whenever possible (see point five and six). I have found this to be the case all throughout my studies. Lecturers and tutors were willing to provide assistance in my first year when I was still settling in, in later years when I was finding higher level research challenging, and still now, where I walk through the Haydon-Allen building and am asked how my Honours research is going and if there is anything I need help with. The wisdom here is, it is important to recognise just how exceptional ANU is and really use that to your advantage.
2) Use the Academic Skills and Learning Centre (ASLC). This is the first year I have used the ASLC and I wish I went earlier! I am never organised enough to get them to review drafts, though I imagine that would be extremely useful. I have found them incredibly helpful with structuring, planning, and time management. Book online here.
3) Use the ANU Medical Centre if you are unwell. The appointments are FREE for students and they are able to provide doctors certificates, scripts and referrals when needed. This is a service I found by accident when battling tonsillitis one winter. To make an appointment call: 6125 3598.
4) If you don’t already, use the library group study rooms if you ever have group assignments or just need some space. This little pearl of wisdom was passed on to me in my second year when I had to complete a large group assignment. I was panicking about finding a time and a place for us to all meet when one of the later year students said “don’t worry, I’ll just book a room”. This is probably the best thing I ever learnt while doing a group assignment… Book a time slot online here.
5) If you are even remotely considering thinking about Honours, start taking subjects with someone you think might be a suitable supervisor. Finding a supervisor is probably the most important part, though if you already have a relationship with someone it is a pretty easy thing to initiate and set up in your last semester (should you want to). It is always nice to keep your options open. I learnt this in hindsight after coincidentally taking several subjects with my Honours Supervisor.
6) Become a part of, and immerse yourself within your CASS community. For me, that has largely been SPIR, though all CASS Schools and Centres have similar warm and welcoming reputations. The incredible support I have received throughout my studies (see point one) has hugely enriched my university experience and will undoubtedly improve my Honours Thesis.
The saying that ‘it takes a village’ seems oddly applicable to completing one’s studies. While ultimately it is your own hard work and effort, it is a much more rewarding and enjoyable process with the support of friends, family, and the academic community. I have certainly found this to be the case. The above six pearls of wisdom have been essential in improving my time here at ANU - I hope they reach those most in need of them. I also hope they continue to accumulate as others pass on these in addition to their own words of wisdom.
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