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© Updated as of 2019
Survive Law

  • Marie Iskander

Diary of a Transfer Law Student


When I received my UAI in 2008, I was devastated. I had dreamed about practicing law since I was 11 years old and although I had prepared back-up options, I couldn’t anticipate how disappointed I would be that day the results were released and I realised my mark wasn’t quite enough for me to study law at my preferred university.

After brunching with my high school peers I came home to find a letter from my uni inviting me to study law from my second year, on the condition that I maintained a distinction average in my first year of another degree of my choice. This letter gave me great comfort as I braced myself for another year of hard work.

My first year of university wasn’t easy. As an arts student in my first year, I remember sharing classes with arts/law students whom I greatly envied. “Oh, so what do you study?” I was frequently asked. “Arts… BUT I’m transferring to law next year”. I think many people laughed when I said that. How could I be so confident that I would have the grades to transfer into law? Perhaps I was kidding myself. Maybe my high school careers coordinator was right when she told me I wouldn’t get the grades to transfer into law and that I should probably lower my expectations.

I remember walking past the law building each evening in my first year of university and staring at it with great admiration. “One day I will study in that law library” I would convince myself when I felt disillusioned. As my first year came to a close, I applied to internally transfer into a combined arts/law degree and was accepted.

The perks of the internal transfer program was that I didn’t merely transfer into law, but transferred into second year law and was able to pick up my first and second year law subjects together. This was great because it ensured that I would graduate with students who started the same year as me and I wasn’t required to complete an extra year of study.

I remember my first day of law school like it was yesterday. I was so eager that I was the first student present in the class, prepared with my colourful stationery and books. But then I began to feel anxious and self-conscious. How would I explain to my first year peers that I was in my second year of university? Would they think I wasn’t smart because I wasn’t admitted into law straight from high school?

In hindsight, I can absolutely see the accuracy in Douglas Adams statement: “I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” Throughout the course of my law degree I have always been a bit self-conscious of the label “transfer law student”, I can confidently say that if I could choose and do it all over I would still prefer the path I took as a transfer.

My first year of arts enabled me to comfortably ease into university life, and when I was finally admitted into law, I was already familiar with university protocol, essay writing and was definitely ready for the workload. As a final year law student this year, I am able to look back on the last four years of my arts/law degree with great pride and I certainly don’t have any regrets about missing that cut-off in year 12.

So if you’re a transfer student like me, just remember that you deserve to be a law student just as much as any other law student in your class. If you’re yet to transfer into law and are feeling disillusioned or self-conscious, remind yourself of what you have accomplished this far. Keep everything in perspective and don’t give up!

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