Keen on becoming a secondary education teacher, but not so sure which university is the right choice for you? Alexandra Knight, a third-year Secondary Education student from UQ, and Art of Smart have paired up to help you through your university choices!
Alexandra talks about the reality of studying Secondary Education at UQ, the course workload and on the importance of following your own timing and passion.
To read all you’ll need to know, continue scrolling on!
Why should you study a Secondary Education degree at UQ?
“It is a great way to share a love for your area of expertise,” Alexandra first tells us. “Education relies on good teachers who not only have the care for students, but the skills and content knowledge to pass along.”
It is an incredibly rewarding experience to pursue your passion, as well as watch your students learn and grow through your guidance.
The warm campus and social life at UQ is one of the best in Queensland. During your uni life as pre-service teachers, you’ll get the opportunity to have the full university experience, where many UQ students are active within societies and clubs.
One society you might be interested in is the Education Society — learn more about it here!
Top 3 Pros of a Secondary Education degree
#1: Placements from first year
The school practicum placements are hands-down the best thing ever and every student looks forward to them. It kickstarts from your first year and gradually increases your participation as a teacher throughout the years.
At UQ, arranging this is easy as filling out an online form through UQ’s Placement website. So, you won’t have to go through the fuss of searching for placements, as you’d normally would for other degrees.
#2: Career flexibility and prospects
Contrary to popular belief, the Secondary Education program opens many doors after graduation.
As Alexandra says, there is “the flexibility of my career choice for when I finish”. You don’t have to stick to working as a teacher in Queensland, you can go interstate. And, if that doesn’t suit you, go international.
After graduation, you also have the choice to work in public or private secondary schools, where the different teaching environment and style can give a fresh perspective to your career!
#3: Boosting your knowledge
Lastly, Alexandra enjoys the “the idea of studying whatever area of science I like, while finishing two degrees in 4 years, compared to a usual 3 year degree“.
As the first two years of Secondary Education are quite light in workload, you get to focus on what you really want to learn yourself in your second degree, the majors you want to go into and, of course, what part of your expertise you’d like to teach in the future.
Don’t underestimate how valuable the first two years are — explore and expand your knowledge circles, so you know what the best teaching area is for you!
Top 3 Cons of a Secondary Education degree
#1: Full-on work load
The workload of a double-degree is pretty serious. As Alexandra tells us, “I have had to compromise work and social events to commit to a 4 year double degree.”
While you might have the average 10 contact hours, you’re juggling two or more areas of knowledge, which requires more brainwork.
Besides the practical placements, the course content of Secondary Education is mostly theoretical. Be prepared to encounter a lot of sociological perspectives, while writing literature reviews and 2000-3000 word essays!
In addition, there are also no Behaviour Management units in the Secondary Education course content. This means that during your placements, you’ll have to learn on-the-spot and intuitively on how to maintain a positive classroom of students.
#2: Missing cross-faculty support
“Although both faculties supply support for respective degrees, there is no ‘middle man’ between the two, hence some of my questions go unanswered,” Alexandra says.
“Sometimes I’ll have questions regarding the specifics of becoming a science teacher and won’t have anyone to address the questions. Both faculties end up pushing me to each other as they don’t have the answer.”
For example, how her Microbiology and Chemistry majors will affect her teaching opportunities is a concern that she still hasn’t received answers for!
#3: Lack of financial support during placements
Finally, there is a lack of financial support in placements.
For students who have to take days off their part-time job during their placement, this can be quite stressful as you’ll have to manage ways to save up or rearrange your work schedule.
More time to explore what her interests really were is something Alexandra wished she allowed herself.
“When I began, I was unsure of the area of teaching I wanted to do. I wish I gave myself more chances to explore in first year, such as trying out psychology, figuring out chemistry was my niche,” she elaborates, “and not trying to be a maths teacher so bad.”
What do you wish you had known before starting Secondary Education at UQ?
“It’s okay to change your mind!” Alexandra tells us.
Taking more time, instead of speeding through your university program, can help you to be more mindful and intentional about your career path. There is absolutely no time limit.
“I have had to add a semester more than I planned but it was for the better as now I am in a teaching area I am excited to teach!” Alexandra says.
“I always tell my friends if they are unhappy in their area or degree they should try something new, no matter if it takes a little bit longer.”
What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities?
“University life is a game changer at UQ,” Alexandra says, reflecting on her study experience at UQ. “The UQ Union supplies opportunities for students to experience and network in ways I have not seen at other universities.”
She adds about the quality of her classes, saying, “I also enjoy the experienced lecturers and professional guest speakers who come in.“
What inspired you to choose Secondary Education at UQ?
“I’ve wanted to be a teacher since as long as I can remember, and my love and passion for science came about in senior high school. I have always wanted to pass this passion onto the younger generations,” Alexandra says.
Choosing the best university took a bit of moving around — “I started my university experience at a smaller university, and after 18 months wanted to try a full university experience. I really liked Brisbane and decided on UQ after seeing the community aspect of students such as clubs and societies,” she elaborates.
What are the possible career paths?
Most Bachelor of Secondary Education graduates work as high school teachers. Where they work in, however, encompasses many options — public high schools, private schools, in Queensland or interstate, and even international schools!
Outside of becoming a High School teacher, graduates can follow careers based on their second degree or working behind the scenes in the Department of Education.
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.