A letter to my high school self: Jessie's perspective

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Wondering what it's like to be a university student? Meet fourth-year Bachelor of Arts/Law student Jessie Xiao as she writes to her high school self about all the experiences awaiting her at UNSW.

Dear high school Jessie, 

I know you’re really anxious about university so I’m here to reassure you that it’ll all be okay!

Jessie Xiao with group of friends in high school
Jessie during Year 12 of high school.

You’re going to love the freedom and independence that will come with attending uni. You’ll get to pick subjects that sound interesting to you and write essays on topics that you’re passionate about. You’ll also have more control than ever over your own schedule and will enjoy days off when you don’t have class and can go on a hike or for a leisurely brunch! As you progress later into your degree, the flexibility of UNSW will also allow you to pursue work experiences for your early career development.

When you start first year, you may feel a bit like an imposter in your law lectures, but you have all the necessary foundational skills and everyone else is in the same boat as you. You’ll develop the confidence to ask and answer questions in class, with lecturers reminding you that there are no stupid questions. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. UNSW has fantastic resources to support your learning development and wellbeing. Don’t give up!

And don’t worry that most of your high school friends will be attending other universities. Even though they’re on a semester system, you’ll definitely keep in touch with them. You’ll also meet lots of wonderful new people at UNSW. Be brave and go outside of your comfort zone! Attend Law Camp and Law Ball, audition for that dance team and sign up for that moot! You’ll go on many laughter-filled road trips with your uni friends, spend many late nights stressing over assessments together and you’ll form lifelong bonds in the Moot Court.

Jessie during university

Right now, you may have no idea what career you want to pursue, but continue to keep your options open and be flexible. In the classroom, you’ll come to develop a passion for the law, and through practical learning opportunities such as the Law Society’s competitions, you’ll begin to hone the skills you’ll need for a career in law. These competitions will provide you with the opportunity to present arguments in front of High Court judges, travel, and represent UNSW nationally and internationally. Along the way, you’ll also meet senior UNSW students who will provide you with invaluable advice and opportunities, helping you pursue the career you want.

There will be challenges on this journey, but you’ll overcome them with the support of your family, friends and the teaching staff. You’ll develop a fondness for the food on campus (especially GYG and Stellini’s) and come to love studying on the lawn and in the law library. So, don’t be nervous about university, it’s going to be a fantastic time!

Best wishes,

Fourth-year Jessie
Jessie Xiao


Jessie Xiao

Fourth-year student, Bachelor of Arts/Law

Previously: Abbotsleigh Girls High School