If you haven’t read one of my posts yet, my name is Bella and I have nearly finished the third year of my Arts degree – just one exam to go!
I remember in high school, there was so much course information out there, it could get quite overwhelming. It is hard to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life while managing all your VCE subjects! I remember that hearing about other students’ experiences in different courses was helpful to me in making my decision, because it’s informative to know what it is like being a student studying what is written in the course guide. So, I’m hoping that this post will be helpful to those who are beginning university studies for the first time, or considering changing courses. Remember that everyone’s university experience is unique – but this is mine.
Why this course?
In high school I was a Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholar – through this program I had visited The University of Melbourne several times. I could feel so much positive energy on campus – it was so welcoming – and stunningly beautiful (as a Harry Potter fan, I loved the Old Quad’s similarity to Hogwarts).
Now, this will sound a bit cliché but bear with me: I feel like many prospective students visit multiple universities, and have a moment when they can really see themselves at one. That’s what happened to me at Melbourne – I could really envision myself as a student there. It wasn’t really a single moment for me, but a cumulative effect of me visiting the campus and researching the study options.
Speaking of the study options, that was another part of what made me decide to put the Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne as my first preference. At the end of high school, I had a few career options in mind, but nothing set in stone. I felt like I hadn’t really experienced what the world had to offer yet, and wanted to explore areas I was interested in. I ended up doing well in high school – not only because of the wonderful teachers I had – but also because I followed my interests all the way through. If you’re passionate about something, that motivates you to work hard, and you get results. Even if these results aren’t always exactly what you had been hoping for, you enjoy the process.
I knew that I wanted to major in Psychology because it was my passion. In terms of the practical side, a major in Psychology also has wide applicability in terms of career options: of course there is the career option of being a psychologist, but you can also be an academic, work with businesses as an organisational psychologist, work in public relations, work as a teacher – the list goes on. I also wanted to continue my French studies to become fluent, and knew that I could take subjects in other cool learning areas in the BA, such as Communications. A Bachelor of Arts allowed me to do all of these things.
This was what drew me to the Melbourne Model, where you can explore your interests in broad undergraduate studies and specialise in postgraduate studies. This definitely took a huge weight off my shoulders while completing the VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) because I didn’t have to worry about planning my career straight after high school, but I also had a firm goal to work towards and inspire me to study.
You don’t have to make any firm decisions about your major in first year, but in my opinion, it is beneficial to have an idea in mind. Have a look at what the requirements are for your major in the handbook, and try to make sure that you set yourself up in first year to pursue whatever major you would like to. Some of the majors, like Psychology, have specific subject requirements for Level 1 (first year).
Everyone has to do an ‘Arts Foundation’ subject – a full list is available here. I chose Reason, because I had always been interested in Philosophy. I didn’t really mind what foundation subject I did, because I was just keen to learn as much as possible – Reason was fantastic because not only did you learn how to think critically in an Arts degree, you learn about many great philosophers and their ideas, and a bit about history. There are some foundation subjects that help with majors – for example, I believe that Language would be helpful for those studying Linguistics or English. You can change your classes in the first few weeks of uni, so if the one you pick isn’t the right choice for you after all, you can always do another one instead.
For Psychology, we have to complete two subjects in first year. I also studied French each semester, leaving me with one Arts elective and two breadth subjects to choose. Breadth is another awesome thing about Unimelb – you can enhance your employability by complementing your course with subjects from other faculties (I studied Principles of Business Law in first semester, because I knew that the knowledge would be helpful for whatever career I chose) and also pursue other interests (in first year I also studied a subject called Spontaneous Drama: Improv and Communities, because I had enjoyed drama in high school and as an extra-curricular activity in Year 11 and 12).
In second year there were four psychology subjects that I had to take, and four other subjects I could choose. I completed my final level of French and a Creative Writing elective in first semester, and in second semester I ended up underloading (I did three subjects instead of four) – to be able to complete an internship in Public Relations. Safe to say that the internship went well, as I am still working for the company today – an amazing culture and team. I recommend doing an internship or getting some kind of work experience if you are interested in taking Media and Communications subjects – from my own experience and conversations with other students, this is really helpful when completing assignments.
This year I continued my Psychology and French studies, as well as studying Media and Communications subjects. I haven’t completed any breadth subjects this year because as a Psychology student in the BA, some of our breadth subjects are subjects in the Psychology major. I also decided to cross-credit my French subjects and apply for the Diploma in Languages. So, I will be completing this Diploma and my BA in four years (instead of the standard three years for a Bachelor’s degree) – meaning that next year will be my final year. Doing French in the Diploma means that I can take more French subjects as well as pursuing all my interests in the BA. The last four subjects of the Diploma are also HECS-free (yay!). There are also concurrent diplomas in other areas, such as Music! I’ve seen on the Diploma in Languages web page that you can also undertake it as a Graduate Student – it’s never too late!
Overall, my time at Unimelb so far has been nothing short of incredible. There are such inspiring lecturers and tutors, so many subjects available, a wonderful campus environment, excellent facilities and so many volunteering opportunities!
If you have any questions about my experience studying the BA, leave them in the comments below!
– Bella 😊