Earned it? Enjoy it.

You don’t seem like you could go to St Andrews

The words uttered to me by a teacher providing me with ‘guidance’ in high school. Even before I left to go to university, I was being seen as someone who “couldn’t” or, even worse, “shouldn’t” go to the best university available to me. Why? Simply because I come from a working-class background, in a largely underprivileged area.

After leaving the teacher’s office I did doubt myself; I’d never fit in, I’d be looked down upon, I will ultimately fail and waste both time and money. There were points at which I was going to decline the offer and go to a university that people of my status ‘fit in easier’ or are ‘expected to attend’. However, my outlook changed when I visited the university with my parents.

One thing that will probably always stick with me, and is a testament to the type of people my parents are, was the conversation that I had with them when I arrived at the university. They reminded me that I had the ability to go here. I’d done the work, got the grades and put in the effort. They believed I could, and that’s all I needed. After this point, I was determined to go and I can safely say that after 3 years at St Andrews, it was the best decision I ever made.

I can safely say that these past 3 years have been the best of my life. I’ve achieved things I never expected to achieve, made friends that I cherish and broadened my horizons greatly. If I had listened to that teacher I can guarantee I wouldn’t be anywhere near as happy as I am today.

So no matter if you’re reading this because you know me, or maybe you’re dealing with this situation and Google has sent you in this direction, here’s my advice. Your aspirations shouldn’t be quashed because you are who you are. Regardless of wealth, race, sexual orientation, gender or any other aspect that makes you both who you are but also different, you dream big. You dream big, and you go for it because you need to live your best life; no-one else is going to do it for you.

“You don’t seem like you could go to St Andrews”. These words have stuck with me; even encouraged me to try harder, do better and achieve more. This wasn’t the intention of the individual but it was the effect. It makes every good grade better, and each accomplishment sweeter because I can safely say “I can” and “I did”. And you can too.

You are the only person who knows what you’re capable of. If you’ve got what it takes, go for it. Don’t let small minded people take opportunity away from you.


  1. LIam Norton

    Well done mate! You deserve this so much! Such a lovely guy and know you’ll
    Achieve anything you set your mind to! Well done.

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  2. Colin McKean

    Great read Seamus. I’m as far removed from your stereotypical University of St-Andrews student as you can get – I was pretty much a local, from a rough-ish state school 35 minutes into deepest, darkest Fife heading North-East on the X59 bus to mix it up with the brightest and best in the country.

    And I found as soon as I arrived, it didn’t really matter who you were or where you came from, it was an absolute amazing town and university full of fantastic people. Like you, those were the best 4 years of my life and it’s great to see the young team are still loving it.

    It’s important to realise that people who scoff at where you are going, have likely never been. And the people you meet there, don’t care where you’ve come from. Be the latter, not the former.

    Take it easy Seamus!

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      “Be the latter, not the former”, truly the best important thing! It’s definitely still a place that you can make your own which is what’s so great. All the best and thanks for reading Colin!

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