2 June 2016
University is a time where overwhelmed students are opened up to a world of new knowledge, diverse classes, and a multitude of career prospects. Because of this, some may struggle to fit comfortably within one program. So, what exactly are your options when you aren’t sure about your degree? Generally, there are two choices: stay in your degree, or switch to another. Today I am listing the pros and cons of changing your degree program. Additionally, I will provide an alternative path that I, personally, have taken. I hope it can be of use to those of you in the same boat!
There are many pros to changing your degree. Firstly, you are following a degree/career path that has piqued your interest. And although change may be scary, it can be exciting to venture into unknown territory.
The end prize is always worth it, so be prepared for the little bumps along the way.
Secondly, you are introduced to new classes, lecturers and tutors. Perhaps the assessment for your new degree will be better suited to you (i.e., lab reports instead of argumentative essays). You may find learning more enjoyable.
A huge piece of advice for anyone looking to change degrees is to read the course outlines and find out exactly what assessment/workload is required.
Lastly, switching degrees may not seem as daunting as you think. Credit transfers are available, and can be arranged through student central. This is an avenue to investigate if you don’t want your previous degree’s classes to go to waste!
Credit transfer as many classes as possible to use as elective options in your new degree. This will save you time and valuable dollars.
One of the biggest cons for changing degrees is time investment.
‘With half of my degree complete, why not just stick it out?’ is a common thought for anyone considering switching programs.
However, your time at university is miniscule in comparison to your time spent working! So it is important to make the right decisions now. Another con of changing is additional degree debt. Completing two years of an arts degree (full time) totals to almost $14,000 in loans, and this can be a scary thought to consider when switching degrees.
‘I spent 14k for nothing? No thanks!’.
And then there’s the few pesky financial pieces which also contribute to the cons: scholarship issues and updating Centrelink reports. Scholarships are only a problem if the nominated scholarship is only offered for a particular degree.
‘But I don’t want to lose my bursary: what else can I do?’
If you are concerned of this, student central is always available to assist you through email or in person. Similarly, Centrelink details (if you are an eligible student), must be updated to prove your tertiary status for future payments.
The alternative I have for switching degrees is a process that I discovered when weighing up the pros and cons for staying in my Bachelor of Psychology degree, or switching to a Bachelor of Biomedical Science. After endless internet searches I finally found an amazing solution. Study BOTH degrees!
'How is this possible?'
Through concurrent study. Although this application process is somewhat lengthy, concurrent study allows a student to study two degrees at the same time.
'So wait... Does this mean I have DOUBLE the work load?!'
No, not at all! USC allows a student to study a maximum of five classes per semester. If you are studying two degrees at the same time, you still abide by this. It just means that you can study 2-3 courses from one degree, and 2 from another, per semester.
'Why would I enrol in concurrent study?'
Concurrent study is an excellent choice if you wish to remain in one degree whilst starting another, or to gain additional qualifications! Additionally, you can save time by studying classes during summer sessions (if available), or through cross-institutional study (after approval from program coordinators), or even through credit transfers (to fill up elective spaces). However; keep in mind that you need to be dedicated to your studies and be passionate about what you want to do!
'Sign me up! What do I need to do?'
The whole process is lengthy, but do not be discouraged! You need to fill out a few forms, write a letter (which will be sent out to the program coordinators) stating why you wish to study concurrently and how you will manage it, as well as create a study plan to show how you will approach both degrees. Once you receive approval from both program coordinators, you will receive an acceptance letter to study both programs.
'What are the cons of this?'
Though the alternative may seem perfect, there are a few cons. Firstly, additional debt (yes, since you’re studying two degrees you need to get a HECS-HELP loan for both). Secondly, program coordinators may reject your proposal to study concurrently. Lastly, studying two separate degrees may mean you have to spend additional time at university (depending on your study plan): but, think of the positives. For me, to study a psychology degree (3 years) and a biomedical degree (3 years) separately, that would take 6 years. Since I chose the concurrent degree option, I can complete both degrees within 4 years (saving 2 years of time)! In the end, it can be worth it, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort!
So there you have it: a list of the pros, cons, and alternative to changing programs! I hope that these points help confirm your decision whether or not to switch degrees. Before I end this blog piece, there is one last point I want you to consider. Think about yourself and what will make you happiest. I wish you all the best in your decision, and good luck with your studies.
Article by Tayla Dokonal.