Meet the school: James Ruse Agricultural High

Is James Agricultural High School the right fit for your child? We collated a fact sheet and interviewed two James Ruse students to help you find out.

Fact Sheet

James Ruse Agricultural High School 

School Type: Co-ed, Agricultural.

Current rank: #1 High School in the 2019 HSC.

Previous rankings: #1 in 2018, #1 in 2017.

Location: 17-31 Felton Road Carlingford, NSW 2118 Australia.

Selective exam mark: 2019 minimum entry score was 250.

School highlights: James Ruse High excel at maths and science Olympiads, in which its students are often selected to represent Australia.

What the school takes pride in: James Ruse takes pride in its committees, clubs and societies. These include the Ruse MUN, Go Green, Amnesty, Ruse Dance Club, Interact, UNICEF, Film Club, Food and Cultural Team, Programming Club, Zero robotics, Anime Club, Book Club, Knitwits, and many more. James Ruse also takes pride in its Duke of Ed program.

Interview with James Ruse Agricultural High Graduates


Chris Song, Selective Score 260     

Janet Zhou, Selective Score: 260

Introduce yourself:

Chris: My name is Chris, I entered James Rues in 2011 as a year 7 and graduated in 2016. I now study Finance/Law at the University of Sydney, and I am Director and Head of Education here at 300 Selective.

Janet: My name is Janet, and I started studying at James Ruse in year 7 and graduated as part of the class of 2018. I am currently studying Medicine at the University of Western Sydney, and I am one of the tutors at 300 Selective.

How did you react when you found out you made it into James Ruse?

Chris: I remember distinctly, Mum and I were jumping up and down on my bed, screaming. We had only moved to Australia 4-5 years ago and didn’t go to an OC school; I think I was the first in my primary school’s history to make it into the top selective school at the time. I know it meant a lot to me because I worked hard all year to study for the test.

Janet: It was a huge relief when my parents told me that I had made it into James Ruse. It felt very rewarding to know that all my hard work had paid off. I remember the calls and messages that came flooding in from friends who had also just received their results and being really happy to find out that I would be spending the next 6 years with some of my closest friends who had also made it into the school. 

What was the first day like?

Chris: Honestly, it was a little difficult at first because everyone knew each other from OC and tutoring. But I had no problem making friends as a lot of the students shared the same interests.

I remember the very first day in Mathematics; the teacher walked in and gave us a maths test straight away. It was a lot of sums and simple questions, and there was a time limit. It was hard, but fun at the same time. I remember looking around after the test, and everyone seemed to be enjoying it as well.

I also remember the school tour; we all received a map of the school, and 70% of the map was the farm – all the classrooms and school facilities were bunched up in one corner. It was quite funny to see.

Janet: At first, I was quite nervous because I was intimidated by the idea that the environment would be very cutthroat, making it difficult to make new friends. However, my worries faded away as I recognised the faces of people I knew from tutoring and primary school.

The school made it very easy for us to settle in, using a peer support program for the first few weeks of school to get us familiar with the new environment and become comfortable with our classmates. There were many times on the first day when I struggled to understand my timetable and navigate the school to find where my classes were. However, all the staff and older students were extremely welcoming and willing to help, making it easy to settle into the school quickly.

Does everyone study daily?

Chris: Some certainly did, but most certainly did not. From my experience, James Ruse is just like any other high school – you have the kids who study hard from Day 1, but you also have some kids who are lazier. The difference is, everyone seems to pull through somehow in the end and come out with slightly better results than everyone else.

There is definitely a competitive nature – but it’s not like we’re not friends either. We jokingly tease each other when one friend doesn’t do so well, but I don’t think it ever got to bullying. There was actually not much bullying in James Ruse – everyone was generally nice and friendly.

One thing to note is that there are lots of extracurriculars – more than a lot of other schools in fact. Students don’t spend all of their time studying. There are leadership and social justice clubs like Amnesty and Go Greens, and our school has its own Army Cadet Unit – I was the Unit Commander by the time I was in year 12. I was also one of the lead actors at our school’s annual musicals – not many public schools actually hold their own musical, but we do every year.

Janet: This is a common misconception I also had – I thought all James Ruse students did in their spare time was study, but I was wrong. While it is true that some students are super hardworking and study every day to stay on top of their workload, there were many others (like myself) who found themselves procrastinating and leaving their homework and assignments until the very last minute.

Although not everyone studied daily, most people were able to put in the effort and work hard when it mattered to get them through their exams. I do think that maintaining a good work-life balance is really important to prevent people from burning out.

Was James Ruse good at sports?

Chris: Contrary to what many people think, a lot of students at James Ruse like to play sports and are actually quite fit – my best friend through high school was a state-level cross country and athletics champion. Surprisingly, our sports teams for basketball, volleyball and cricket always came first in our region for school sport, even though we played a range of other selective and non-selective schools. We were also quite good at swimming – I remember in year 7 my age group’s relay team made it all the way to the state finals. And at least every year, there is a state athlete or two in either swimming, cross country or athletics. There’s definitely a false impression that no-one in James Ruse plays sports!

Janet: James Ruse was actually very strict for our participation in sports carnivals and fitness testing, so generally everyone was pretty fit. The school offers many opportunities to participate in various sports, with many competitions in sports including netball, soccer, cricket and basketball. Each year for our carnivals, we have students who qualify to compete at a high level (such as state-level), and we usually perform pretty well when we compete against other schools in sporting competitions.

We hope this information has given you a small insight into James Ruse Agricultural High School and the opportunities that it brings.

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