A message for new BA students

Today, six years ago, I was very happy. My boyfriend and I had just moved into our first flat. I had been accepted into a voluntary position as a counsellor at Youthline, and was working two paid jobs – one as a barista at a cafe in Christchurch’s beautiful New Regent Street, and the other as an administrator at a rehab centre. I was 19, with a gorgeous tan from my first OE in Europe, and just about to start my BA.

The tan faded in a couple of weeks. It was followed, each December, by another year of my youth. Four years after starting my degree, all three of my workplaces crumbled. After another two years, most of the significant architectural landmarks of my childhood, along with my relationship, had followed. Last month, I turned 25, and – according to the New Zealand government, at least – lost my youth entirely. 

And yet, today, six years after starting my BA, I’m very happy. While my youth is gone, my tan is back – revived by a trip to North Queensland to see in the New Year. As I write this from the lounge of my own flat, I’m looking alternately between the bush-clad, villa-studded hills of Wellington and the floor, where my cat is sprawled in a perfect square of sunlight. I’m running through my to-do list for the next few weeks: finish Term One lesson plans, sort second publishing deal, book next holiday.

To me, all this suggests that change is inevitable, and that the the most important thing we can do is to prepare for it. And that’s where the BA comes in. Every entry on my to-do list is exciting, but I couldn’t achieve any of them without my degree. As the haters will eagerly profess, a BA is expensive, time-consuming, and devoid of hands-on skills. What they don’t realise, though, is that a BA is also a powerful tool for change. By enabling me to meaningfully think and work, mine has allowed me to navigate the most changeable time of my life to date and to come out the other side with a smile (and a tan) on my face.

So, to the new BA students of 2013, remember: getting your BA isn’t about getting a bit of paper at the end. Sure, it’s a nice bit of paper, but even the snazziest bits of paper can be crushed, burned, or washed away. Getting your BA is about getting choices, freedom and resilience. So, while haters are always gonna hate, BA grads are always going to adapt.

Sort your enrolment, get the stuff you need, and prepare to change your life forever.

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