If you’re in high school and wondering if university is for you, Matt Offer is proof great things can happen when you take a chance.
Currently studying to become a lawyer and volunteering as a paralegal, Matt also works with Fairway UWA as a student ambassador, giving back to the program that gave him so much.
“My advice to high school students who are unsure university is for them would be to apply for Fairway,” he says.
“You’ll make lifelong friends, be supported by a network of amazing ambassadors and staff, and receive all the help you could possibly ask for with your studies.
“Everywhere I go around campus, I bump into the friendly and warm faces of people from Fairway. The program has been an integral aspect of my support network; I utilise it every day.”
Fairway is an entry pathway and support program for students who are completing Year 12 and facing financial challenges. It offers academic, personal and financial support throughout students’ last year of high school and during their time at university.
“You’ll often hear students describe the Fairway program as a ‘family’ and that really is the most accurate description I can offer,” Matt says.
“It’s a supportive and diverse space, where individuals are encouraged to be themselves but where no individual is greater than the whole. Fairway celebrates people for who they are, and it will challenge, encourage and support you to grow as a person.”
Fairway UWA helps prepare you for university with a range of workshops to familiarise and assist you with the technical aspects of university and the application process. There’s also workshops that offer insight into the types of courses at UWA. One of the biggest components of the program is the academic support, with English and maths masterclasses, and study skills and exam preparation workshops. You’re also given access to WACE revision sessions and online tutoring.
“As the first in my family to attend university, I had no idea what to expect,” says Matt.
“The concept of a major baffled me and the university application process was daunting. After attending the workshops, I was not only familiar with the structure of a university degree and the application process, but I left with a concrete idea of what I wanted to study and what I needed to do in order to achieve that.
“My grades increased drastically as a result of the academic tuition offered by Fairway.”
In addition to academic support, Fairway offers events, assistance and more to help with the transition from high school to uni.
“Over the course of Year 12, the ambassadors and staff regularly checked in to provide support in any way they could,” Matt says.
“They really did go above and beyond to make everyone feel like they belonged.
“Even as I found my feet through the first few weeks of my degree, Fairway was there. I had friends in classes, the ambassadors and staff to call upon for advice, and there’s even social events to welcome the first-year students and ensure you’re aware of and connected to the large support network that is Fairway.”
The program also connects students to financial assistance, like the Hackett Scholarships, if they graduate from the Fairway program and choose to attend UWA. Matt confirms that without this financial assistance, he would have struggled to cover living expenses.
But the best part about Fairway? The social aspect, with plenty of events to meet other students.
“There’s a range of diverse and interesting people, [so] there’s always an intriguing conversation to be had,” Matt says.
“The Fairway camps provide a significant amount of time for socialising and have a range of activities, such as team-building exercises and quiz nights that really help students get to know each other.”
If you’re contemplating university, let Matt’s story inspire you.
“I was initially apprehensive about the idea of attending UWA. I had this idea that I wasn’t smart enough to get in or that, if I did get in, I wouldn’t fit in,” he says.
“Fairway enabled me, and gave me the confidence, to succeed in my ATAR studies. It’s safe to say that if it weren’t for Fairway and the support it provided, I wouldn’t be at UWA. It instilled in me a sense of self-belief that I could achieve great things.”
Matt is now studying the Juris Doctor at the UWA Law School.