Now we’ve got all the facts sorted with the Bachelor of Education at USYD, let’s see what their students have to say about it!
Introducing Samantha, a Bachelor of Education (Secondary: Mathematics)/Bachelor of Science (Physics) student in her final year and she’s here to tell us about her personal insights into this degree!
Let’s see what she has to share!
Why should you study an Education degree at USYD?
USYD’s Education degree will facilitate your dreams of becoming an expert of your chosen field, with the theoretical and practical skills to teach in any role!
While early childhood and primary teaching students only get to do one Education degree, secondary teaching students can choose to do a double degree in Arts, Science and even Physical Health Education. This double degree program expands your expertise to other fields of teaching, making you an even more employable candidate!
USYD is also well-revered for its Education curriculum, coming in 25th in the QS World University ranking in 2021! USYD graduates have one of the highest employable rates, as Samantha adds, “It’s quite common for people to get full-time jobs out of (Education) placements throughout the degree.”
Top 3 Pros of an Education degree
#1: World class teaching
USYD’s teaching is top-notch and it’s no joke. Samantha says that USYD’s education staff is filled with experienced teachers and education administrators from all career backgrounds!
“There are people who have had 20 years teaching experience, or who still work for the Department of Education or work at NESA and write the syllabuses,” Samantha describes. “So you get a really good sense of where the documents you are using are coming from and it makes it so much easier to understand the content because you are learning from experts in that specific field.”
It’s not only the lecturers but the tutors are also highly passionate in helping you succeed. “They really want you to come out of unit with a strong understanding of the things you need to know as a future teacher,” Samantha says.
#2: Interesting placement locations
If you need a way to get out town and stay productive, USYD’s education degree offers interesting placements within and outside of Australia that you can apply for!
“USYD offers a lot of interesting placement opportunities. There are chances to go into rural communities and overseas like Timor-Leste and Bali to replace one of your placement blocks,” Samantha points out.
These international exchange opportunities may not be available right now due to COVID but feel free to check out where rural placements may take you!
#3: Close-knit community
Making friends within the Education cohort is just as easy as saying 1-2-3! Because of the way USYD’s Education degree is structured, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get to know other people in your cohort.
Samantha says, “By second year, you’d know the names of almost everyone who is doing your teaching area.” By teaching area, Samantha means which major you choose to do as part of your Education degree (whether it be mathematics, science or english).
She explains that in your second year, you will be separated into your own majors where you will meet like-minded people who share the same teaching passions as you!
“So, that sense of community is really great and it helps you get through the stress of the degree as well!” Samantha says.
Top 3 Cons of an Education degree
#1: Heavy workload
If you’re choosing to do a double degree in education, you can expect to have lots of contact hours, assessments and juggling between classes. “Generally, an education degree is 4 years but if you do a double degree at USYD, it’s five years,” Samanatha says. “It also means that you end up with a lot more contact hours.”
Samantha explains that the extra hours account for:
- Education units (one lecture and tutorial per week)
- Teaching area e.g. mathematics, arts or humanities and social sciences (3 lectures and tutorials)
- Units from your second degree (classes depend on your second degree choice in either Arts or Science)
As a result, you’re looking at 3 to 5 days on campus with a double degree.
Samantha adds that this is on top of Education assessments that are usually very rigorous and intensive.
“It can be heavy especially considering that education assignments can be intense and time-consuming because you do things like constructing a teaching program, or making a lesson plan, or preparing a presentation or even just writing an essay,” she says.
“Education can also give you lots of readings so you have to figure out which readings to do and which not to because you don’t have time to read everything.”
#2: Late placements
Compared to other universities, USYD’s practical placements in their education degrees tend to roll out pretty late.
“The fact that practicals do not start until third year out of five means you have to get halfway through the degree until you can decide whether teaching is something you want to do as a job,” Samantha says.
This can leave people realising that they don’t want to do an Education degree when they’re already waist deep into the program.
“A lot of people get to their first practical and realise that teaching is not for them, or if they want to switch to primary instead of secondary,” Samantha explains. “It really is something that you’d wish you’d know earlier.”
#3: Rigid curriculum structure
“The structure of the degree can be quite rigid until you get to your final year and you can play around with what you study.” Samantha says. This can make it difficult to tailor your degree to your own preferences because you have to complete your compulsory units to get accredited as a teacher.
The way an Education degree is structured also means that you may have to catch up on content that you’ve learnt in the previous year because of placement blocks.
“It is structured around your placements,” Samantha explains. “So in the semester you’re doing your placements, you just do your Education units and not your teaching area units (e.g. mathematics, science or social science and humanities).”
“The problem with this is that you go two semesters in a row without your teaching area units and it can get quite hard to draw on your prerequisite knowledge,” Samantha says.
This means that you skip a whole year of learning content, and when you get back to classes, the lecturer assumes that it was not long since you’ve done the previous level of content when in actuality, it was over a year ago.
“I wish I had taken one of the more interesting placement opportunities,” Samantha says.
“Sometimes I wish I had gone rural, sometimes I wish I had tried to go to Sweden just so that I had one of those different experiences but it’s hard to say that it’s regret because the placements I’ve done turned out pretty well and I’ve learnt a lot from these placements.”
What do you wish you had known before starting Education at USYD?
Doing prior research into your units is very, very important to make sure that you can do the units of your interest.
“I wish I had known the importance of planning your units ahead of time,” Samantha says. “Because if you pick the wrong things in the first year, it will not cause you problems until fifth year and by then, it’s too late to fix it.”
Samantha draws from her own experiences, “In my first year I didn’t do any biology units and I didn’t do biology in HSC. So, by the time it came to fifth year, I could pick any of the science units I wanted but most of the science units were not available to me because I have not done any biology.”
Samantha stresses that forward planning is crucial in ensuring that you get all the units you want to do in your senior years. “I wish I had known to plan in advance and I wish I had known how to plan in advance.”
If you’re looking to plan your Education degree, you can use the handbooks or book an appointment with the Education staff who are dedicated to helping students planning your degree out for you. If you don’t know how and where to start, feel free to contact the Student Centre.
What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities?
#1: In-depth expertise
USYD places a strong emphasis on producing educators with an in-depth knowledge of their chosen subject area. Samantha explains that in her degree, she learns so much more than she needs to teach in order to be qualified to work as a teacher.
“Because of the way the degree is structured, it’s a combination of teaching you all the things you need to know as a teacher and making sure you’re an expert of your teaching area before you graduate,” she explains.
“It’s a good chance to gain expertise and also prepare you with skills you need to pass your knowledge on to other people.”
#2: Broader job prospects
If you choose to do a double degree in Secondary Education, you’ll open yourself up to a wider range of work opportunities!
“It’s very useful that it’s a double degree because you end up qualified to teach two subjects, which makes you a lot more employable once you graduate,” Samantha explains.
“For example, if you’re studying maths and science like I am, if there is no availabilities for maths teachers, you can still teach science.”
#3: Flexibility in final year
If you want to take a break from the usual routine, USYD’s education degree ultimately allows you to indulge in other subject areas of your interest in your final year!
“I’m in my final year and I’m studying a unit on diet and nutrition which is a random thing that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” Samantha says. “I’m also doing a bioethics unit that also seems very random but it’s nice to take a break from the normal flow of education and science to delve into other things.”
What inspired you to choose Education at USYD?
“I always wanted to become a teacher,” Samantha says. “It’s something that I drifted away from while I was at school but you know in kindergarten when they ask, ‘What do you want to become when you grow up?’ and my answer was always, ‘I want to be a teacher.’”
“So, I knew I wanted to do an education degree because helping other people learn has always been a satisfying thing for me so even in school helping others with homework and preparing for exams… I’ve always enjoyed doing that.”
Samantha says that she chose USYD because it gave her the opportunity to study the two things that she loves most — maths and physics, while training to become a teacher. “It just worked out to be what I actually wanted to study.”
What are the possible career paths?
If you think an Education degree only leads to a teaching career, think again. With the diverse theoretical and practical skills USYD passes down to its students, you can basically work in any field that involves education.
Here are some interesting career paths you can embark that are outside classroom environments:
- Corporate trainer
- Curriculum planner
- Development manager
- Education centre managers
- Educational researcher
- Education policy maker
- Sports coach
- University lecturer
Kate Lynn Law graduated in 2017 with an all rounders HSC award and an ATAR of 97.65. Passionate about mentoring, she enjoys working with high school students to improve their academic, work and life skills in preparation for the HSC and what comes next. An avid blogger, Kate had administered a creative writing page for over 2000 people since 2013, writing to an international audience since her early teenage years.