Five years of PASS-ing

Five years of PASS-ing

Law and arts student Keely Gage signed up for her first Peer Assisted Study Support (PASS) group during her first year of university—five years later, she’s a PASS mentor, helping other students master course content and study skills during shared study sessions.

My family is originally from a tiny little place called Omaio on the East Cape and I grew up in Rotorua. Coming to university was completely new for me and my whānau, as I am the first to receive a tertiary education. Although I did endless research into where I would study and how everything would work when I arrived, PASS was a great additional tool that helped me tackle the practicalities of university which I couldn’t find anywhere else.

PASS groups are run across a wide range of 100-level papers and involve a PASS leader (a student who recently completed the course successfully) guiding students through weekly group study sessions. Although each group has a leader, the students who attend are really the ones who run it. Leaders will often provide a framework and the students will fill it in with their knowledge. This means you’re able to revise, learn, and grow your understanding of content from lectures and tutorials, and ask any questions. Everything we do in PASS is centered around six core values: whanaungatanga, akoranga, rangatiratanga, manaakitanga, whai mātauranga, and kaitiakitanga. This means our overarching aim is to create a respectful and interactive environment for students to share their knowledge.

I attended several PASS groups in my first year, from Law to International Relations. The experience made the world of difference to my first-year experience and results. I enjoyed PASS so much that I was keen to stay involved, so in my second year I became one of the first Criminology PASS leaders (PASS groups are constantly expanding and being offered for more courses!). I saw the benefits of PASS from my first year of uni and have never really left.

For me personally, PASS allowed me to have one hour a week completely dedicated to reviewing and discussing a particular paper. Other students were always able to clarify concepts for me and I was able to contribute in areas I understood well. In fact, even concepts I felt I’d mastered, other students always raised questions or ideas I hadn’t even considered!

University presents many new exciting opportunities and challenges. Often one of the biggest challenges for first-year university students is how to study and what is expected in their courses. This can hugely differ between courses, just to make it more confusing! A major benefit of PASS is that it’s a great bridging tool between different educational experiences—it can help you adjust to the differences between secondary school and university, between lectures and tutorials, as well as individual experiences.

PASS connects you with people you might not have met otherwise. Five years after signing up for my first ever PASS class, I am still friends with some of my fellow PASS attendees!

As a leader and a mentor I’ve had the privilege of seeing and sharing achievements with students and again, interacting with a wide variety of people. A stand out is watching one of my original PASS attendees move into a leadership role—they are now a mentor with me.

Keely Gage is a fifth-year law and arts student majoring in Criminology, and is a PASS mentor, supporting junior PASS leaders as they lead their own study groups.

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