Get ahead in the game

Head Scholar advises RHS pupils to get ahead in the game

For those of you who are new to this, every year the Head Scholar gives a speech in assembly about something related to academic endeavour. Last year, for example, Ali Green talked about how being scholarly is not just for scholars and the importance of reading around your subjects. I dont want to stand here and tell you how important it is to work really hard and hand all your preps in on time. My point is, I could tell you all of these things in the most interesting way possible and the vast majority of you still wouldnt listen – I dont blame you. Listening to a year 13 pupil talk at you under the supervision of all the teaching staff in the school is inevitably going to sound like another lecture.

So I am not going to tell you to do any of those things. Instead I want to share with you an experience I had this summer. In August, I did some medical work experience in Tanzania and met over 70 like-minded people my age. Due to the nature of the placement that brought us together, most of the people I met were aspiring doctors with very strong qualifications behind them. This showed me just a small segment of what I have to compete against to get the place I want at a medical school. I really had no real understanding of the strength and breadth of the competition there is for places.

Being here in the depths of Suffolk; an estuary in one direction, a reservoir in another and miles of fields and woods surrounding us, disconnects us almost completely from the real world. As lovely as the setting of our school is, we mustn’t forget this. It is very easy to fall into the infamous ‘RHS bubble’ and it was not until this summer that I really realised how sheltered we are. I fear that too many of us dont figure this out until the summer before university applications are due in.

This is what I want to tell you today: the whole world is competing all the time. Whether it is the entrance test to a school, rugby trials for a county team or an application for a new job; we are competing all the time. The truth is that the vast majority of people that are successful in these competitions are the people that work hard. Victoria Foreman is the perfect example of this: she would describe her intelligence as, and I quote I dunno like maybe just above average. She was not an academic scholar before year 12 and she got straight A*s in her GCSEs. Of course, there are some anomalies, there are people who do not work hard but are successful. However, these are the minority and their success frankly comes down to luck and I am sure I am not alone when I say that I am not prepared to play those odds.

My advice to those of you who want to see who you are competing against outside of our school is to do as many activities that take you outside of RHS as you can. This could range from going to other schools on MUN conferences – you know me, always marketing – going to university or college open days or going to talks about subjects you are interested in. Dont do this to impress your teachers or your parents, do it to give yourself an early advantage over the rest of the playing field.

Francesca M
Head Scholar