Now that you’ve read what a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) at UNSW entails, is it on your list of potential degrees you’d like to apply for? Or are you looking for more insight on the degree?
Either way, reading about the pros and cons of a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) at UNSW can help you step in the right direction — with advice from Stella, a Secondary Education graduate, this article will give you all this and more.
So, let’s dive in!
Why should you study an Education degree at UNSW?
The Education faculty and cohort at UNSW is a very supportive network of students and staff.
“No surprise that shared struggles [in studying and otherwise] were great for forging friendships. I feel like no matter your interests, you’ll be able to find a group of like-minded people,” Stella tells us.
Finding professional or personal connections are definitely morale-boosters when studying your undergraduate degree. This ethos is also shared by the UNSW Education Society, joined by almost all Education students for their quality events.
“The Education Society at UNSW is very active in my experience and are helpful when you need guidance with your degree,” Stella says. “They also hold lots of events where you’re able to connect with other people in your degree.”
Top 3 Pros of an Education degree
#1: Fulfilling career
For Stella, a definite pro of studying a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) at UNSW is the certainty of “knowing that you will have a fulfilling career ahead of you“.
Knowledge is power and, when your life’s work aids students in understanding the world around them — whether through teaching English, Science or other subjects — it is undoubtedly rewarding. As a future teacher in secondary education, graduates will literally be motivating the minds of future generations!
Whenever assessments or university work gets overwhelming, Stella says that the idea of “helping and inspiring young people in the future” was a great motivator.
#2: Wealth of work experience
“The best part of my teaching degree was being able to go on pracs at a range of different schools which gave me hands-on experience with teaching,” Stella says.
In the second, third and fourth year of the degree, students are required to undertake practical experience through working at a secondary school. These are offered by the units Professional Engagement, Professional Experience 1 and Professional Experience 2/Internship.
Most knowledge is best gained through working in a real-world setting. “Nothing beats first hand experience when it comes to a profession like teaching,” Stella iterates.
#3: Strong society culture and extracurricular opportunities
The transition from high school, where you see your friends daily, to university can come as a shock. Some students may even feel lonely, but the society culture is one you might want to immerse yourself in.
Though they require quite a high commitment, Stella says that joining Yellow Shirts Orientation program and Arc Street Team are great opportunities to build your resume, networks and boost your university experience.
Top 3 Cons of an Education degree
#1: Theoretical component not as necessary
Education students may realise that the theoretical components of the degree will not prepare them entirely for what it takes to become a teacher. Although 80 days of work placements can provide Education students with a foundational knowledge of the real-world school setting, the transition to a teaching career will no doubt come with unexpected learning curves.
“I have found that most of the learning in a teaching career happens on the job,” Stella says. “Many aspects of being a teacher are difficult to learn in a lecture room if it is unaccompanied by the hands-on experience of teaching.”
#2: Limited career options
With the trimester structure in UNSW and the time focused on work placements, Education students do not have as much time to focus on diversifying their career options.
As with enrolling any degree, but especially a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), it’s important to decide whether you can see a future in a teaching career. It’s worth noting that Education students do graduate with a double degree, so the opportunity to work in their other discipline is still available.
#3: Limited opportunity to go on exchange
“It can be difficult to do exchange around placement without extending the degree,” Stella says. “I didn’t realise this until too late and I wasn’t willing to extend my degree to go overseas.”
Going on exchange is one of the most rewarding opportunities for university students, if they have the resources to do so.
For Education students, it can offer new perspectives and approaches to teaching in the classroom; as an example, in Finland, children start their education at seven years of age, and the classroom dynamics take a more egalitarian approach between teacher and student.
If exchange is a priority for your university experience, planning ahead is key.
Any regrets? What do you wish you had known before starting Secondary Education at UNSW?
As her university experience was quite fulfilling, Stella’s only regret was not being able to go on exchange.
The one thing she wishes that she’d known is that “if you want to do exchange, you have to very carefully plan out your degree as it will be difficult to go overseas around prac [work placements]”.
As a general rule, try to not go on the trimester when placements are usually undertaken.
What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities?
Stella remarks that the UNSW School of Education has one of the most effective offices to find work placements for Education students. This means less stress for students when it comes time to undertake their placements, as well as a potentially broader range of choices for students!
What inspired you to choose Secondary Education at UNSW?
“I’ve always been drawn to the role of the teacher,” Stella says. “I love that in this occupation you can make a positive impact on young people’s lives. I chose UNSW as I liked that they had a modern campus and lots of opportunities to explore student life outside of just my studies.”
What are the possible career paths?
For graduates of a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) at UNSW, one career option is certainly a teacher at an Australian secondary school. You could even become a researcher, educational adviser, or an educational planning advocate!
However, other career options are activated through the graduate’s second degree. For example, Economics graduates can also enter a career as a Policy development specialist or a managerial consultant.
Lynn Chen is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and is a Communication student at UTS with a major in Creative Writing. Lynn’s articles have been published in Vertigo, The Comma, and Shut Up and Go. In her spare time, she also writes poetry.