So, we’ve listed all the facts but what do students have to say about the Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology) at USYD?
Let’s hear it from Jess, a third year Speech Pathology student from USYD who’s here to get real with the ups and downs surrounding this degree.
So let’s see what she has to say!
Why should you study a Speech Pathology degree at USYD?
A Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology) at USYD gives you the privilege of learning from leading experts in the field, setting you at the forefront of Speech Pathology research and practice with their world-class teaching. It’s no wonder USYD is called a global leader in health education!
And there’s never a boring semester with USYD’s Speech Pathology degree! Their curriculum covers diverse subjects related to Speech Pathology alongside extensive placements across different environments.
By the end of this degree, you’ll become a well-rounded and experienced Speech Pathology professional who can work in any area of specialisation across all ages once you’re accredited under Speech Pathology Australia.
As such, USYD is well known for their health degrees as they came in 1st in Australia for Medicine and Life Sciences in the 2021 QS World University Rankings. USYD’s graduate employability rank is also highly revered as it comes in 1st in Australia and 4th internationally, so you know you’re in good hands!
Top 3 Pros of a Speech Pathology degree
#1: Holistic approach
With subjects covering all aspects related to Speech Pathology, USYD ensures its students get an opportunity to explore and showcase their strengths in their unique ways. As Jess starts off, “Going into uni, you’d expect to narrow down on one thing and it can feel very confronting to drop off all the other knowledge that you spent in high school knowing.”
But Jess assures that this was not the case. She found that when she started studying Speech Path, she had to draw from different areas of knowledge.
“So, Speech Path students will have to learn things like psychology, anatomy but also physics and neuroscience and I think it spans across this amazing scope that gives you the opportunity to not only learn how to do Speech Path but also be able to see the worldview of how everything interconnects.”
Jess also explains that the assignments also tend to vary between basic essays to the more creative multimedia projects, giving you the chance to shine best in various methods of communication. “They provide you with different modes of assignments so they might get you to build a website or a therapy resource or film a video — so if you’re someone who’s creative and has different strengths, you have the opportunity to showcase this.”
Ultimately, Jess says that this multifaceted curriculum can also allow you to see your own personal strengths and how they can benefit the Speech Pathology profession.
#2: World class facilities and resources
Speech Pathology students are basically spoiled at USYD with their very own practice clinic in the Camperdown campus! “It’s called the communication disorders, treatment and research clinic or the CDCRT.” Jess explains.
“This clinic is pretty much student-run so there’s supervisors and mentors but this is where every student will have their first placement and see their first client and many more after that! We, Speech Path students, are really lucky to have this clinic with fully resourced therapy rooms and a study space.”
Jess was very happy that the university was very accommodating of Speech Pathology student needs with their high quality facilities including the CDCRT at the new Susan Wakil Building. “I’m the type of person who gets motivated and likes to work in a really nice building so that’s a big plus for me… It’s just a great environment to learn in.”
The new Susan Wakil Building also places the Speech Pathology cohort in close proximity to the other allied health disciplines like nursing, medicine, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and more. “It creates this great place where you can sus out what they are doing and have an insight into how multidisciplinary work happens in the real workforce,” Jess adds.
Check out the CDCRT clinic that’s just for Speech Pathology students here!
#3: Many learning opportunities
Jess says that the learning opportunities as a Speech Pathology student at USYD are endless as they extend beyond the curriculum. As Jess explains, “Speech Pathology students get many opportunities to volunteer such as volunteering for a student representative role at Speech Pathology Australia.”
“Once I got to volunteer to work at an important event with Speech Pathology Australia where they were releasing guidelines to improve the quality of life for children with cancer,” Jess shares. “I was actually there to hand out cupcakes as a student volunteer but we actually got to attend the event and listen to the speakers and it’s a really amazing opportunity to see how a group of professionals can work together behind the scenes.”
Jess explains that this was a really valuable experience that helped her gain a new understanding and appreciation for what Speech Pathologists and other allied health members do. “This is important to keep you motivated and appreciative of the profession that you’re studying to be in and of course, all these experiences can be added to your portfolio so that’s great!” Jess says.
Another way you can gain more relevant experience and skills is by becoming part of the executive team at USYD’s very own Speech Pathology society called Sydney Association of Speech and Hearing (SASH).
“I’m on the executive team and I’m able to organise educational events, social events and resources which is a great opportunity for students.
“You get to build your collaborative team working skills and acquire random skills such as contacting venues to organise events or collaborate with other organisations or build websites. So these kinds of experiences can really inspire students to keep going with this degree and advocate for their profession,” shares Jess.
Top 3 Cons of a Speech Pathology degree
#1: Unpredictable placements
To complete your Speech Path degree, you will need to complete a certain amount of hours in each placement and this can be very tricky when your clients come in or out inconsistently.
“When you’re assigned a client, it can get very dependent on whether your client shows up,” Jess says, “and sometimes clients won’t show up and may discontinue for whatever reason. This makes this complicated.”
“I have friends who have had to see three clients in one semester when they’re supposed to see one,” Jess recounts. “This is because they have to fill in for the hours that the clients keep cancelling and this can add a lot of stress on top of your study already.”
Jess says that it can also be hard to get help from your supervisors who are already busy with their research, lectures and full-time Speech Pathology practice. “So, it can be very challenging to contact them sometimes outside of those allocated hours you have with them which is only 1 to 2 hours a week and that really adds to the stress of placements,” Jess says.
#2: Limited electives
USYD’s Speech Pathology degree already has a set structure as an accredited curriculum under Speech Pathology Australia, so this leaves little to no flexibility in choosing electives. As Jess elaborates, “This means that there is not that much ‘wiggle room’ with electives and you only get to choose one elective throughout the entire degree and even then, the choices are very very limited.”
“A lot of people go into uni and they want to learn language or something else but that’s not really an option with this degree,” Jess says.
#3: Limited opportunities to study abroad
If you’re looking to study overseas as a Speech Pathology student, the options are pretty limited. The only out-of-country course that USYD provides is its 6 unit Faculty of Health Science Abroad program, which allows you to travel to South Asia for 4 to 6 weeks. Other than this, it can be very hard to find an exchange opportunity that suits Australia’s Speech Pathology curriculum requirements.
As Jess explains, “The Speech Pathology degree is accredited for Australia to become a speech pathologist and different countries have different health systems.”
Because other countries have health systems and ideologies that are different to Australia’s, it can be hard to find subjects overseas to substitute the ones you’ve been learning in Australia. As such, the chances of you getting to study abroad while doing USYD’s Speech Pathology degree is quite low.
“I wouldn’t say I had any regrets as of now but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts,” Jesse says. “I think it’s a very normal process for students to doubt what they are studying but I think where all these doubts stemmed from was when I went into this degree, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.”
“Within the first one and a half years of the degree, a lot of the content was very focused on children,” Jess explained. “Even though I care about children, it’s not an area that I see myself working in. So, when I was studying this I was second guessing and kept saying to myself, ‘Do I really want to do this?’”
“But the more I started to learn about different types of disorders and the adult population, I realised that this is a place for me and I do not regret staying here. Even then, learning more, I started to really appreciate the child aspect and started liking it.”
What do you wish you had known before starting the degree?
#1: The diverse scope
“I wish I knew more about Speech Pathology and how it’s so diverse and has a large scope of content,” Jess says. “What I mean by this is that Speech Pathology covers so much such as speech, language, fluency, swallowing and within these areas even smaller bits.”
The wide span of Speech Pathology opens up many opportunities for you to work in diverse settings. “You can work in a school, hospital, justice inn and rehab centre — you can work anywhere and the options are amazing,” Jess lists.
#2: There’s no set personality to become a speech pathologist
“I wish I knew that there isn’t a set criteria or personality to study Speech Pathology,” Jess says. What she means by this is that anyone can find a place within this degree because it’s so diverse in its curriculum, career prospects and the people that you work with that you’re likely to find something that you can hone in on and pursue.
As Jess advises, “A lot of people think that to be a speech pathologist, you may be interested but you might say, ‘Oh, I’m not a Type A person,’ or, ‘I’m not extroverted,’ and I had those anxieties before but you don’t need to meet this set criteria.
“All the speech pathologists and students I’ve met have various personalities and different strengths. The only thing in common that they have is the motivation and passion to help people.”
#3: Do your research!
If you’re looking to become a speech pathologist, it helps to do some research on what they actually do before jumping in. “I researched a lot on Youtube and watched a lot of Youtube videos,” Jess jokes as she recalls the way she researched her future profession.
In all seriousness, Jess advises, “You should check out the actual Speech Pathology institutions to really check out what it’s really about. There’s ASHA and that’s a really big Speech pathology institution that you should definitely look into and you can really understand what Speech Pathologists do.”
#4: Realise your responsibilities
“When you’re choosing to do a health degree, a lot of people go into it thinking about doing the anatomy or the science behind it which is cool if you go down the research path,” Jess says, but from her personal experience, she realised that course is so much more than the theory.
“For me, something that really hit me was that realisation that I was actually training to become a health professional!” Jess says. “It may seem obvious but what a health professional actually entails is that you’re going to be working with real clients with real complex problems and family.”
“When you’re studying for a health degree, there really is no slacking off,” Jess explains. “Not in the sense that you need to pass, but also in the sense that everything you learn has the potential to help someone and impact how well you can provide care.”
“If you can get a grasp of wanting to help people in the future, it can help you prep more mentally for when you’re starting the course content,” Jess advises.
What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities?
#1: Learn from the best
The Speech Pathology faculty at USYD is comprised of highly revered professionals who are leaders in the world of Speech Pathology. “Not only are they really experienced clinicians but also involved in the research behind the treatments and interventions,” Jess explains.
“So, what I find was really cool was you might be sitting down and researching for an assignment and you’ll see your lecturer’s names pop up in these articles and references so you realise like, ‘Wow, they’re really big names in Speech pathology!'” Jess says.
#2: Meet industry leaders
“It’s very rare for a student to meet the researcher behind the things you are learning about in lectures so this is really what sets USYD apart from other universities — it’s the opportunity to meet leaders in the industry,” Jess says.
This is a true once in a lifetime experience to learn to be the best from the best! “To me, it’s a great opportunity for students at USYD to not only be taught by these people but also have conversations with them and ask them questions and receive specific feedback from them continuously. It’s a really great privilege!”
With this, USYD sets you up with meaningful connections with influential Speech Pathologists that will become very useful in your later career. “It really opens up opportunities for you to learn more and meet more speech pathologists who aren’t even teaching at USYD or teaching at all.”
Jess share’s her valuable experience when connecting with one of the creators of an intervention that is used in Speech pathology. “For example, my supervisor for a placement was involved in a certain adult language disorder so she knew these speech pathologists that created the intervention that I was using on my clients.
“She was able to arrange a meeting with this professional with a small group of us and we had a little workshop with her and we learned more about the intervention from the creator herself!”
What inspired you to choose this degree?
“When I enrolled, I didn’t know much about Speech Pathology so it wasn’t a matter of inspiration at that point, it was more of an interest,” Jess says.
“What inspires me to keep going now is the profession and the more you hear about it, you realise how important it is,” Jess recounts.
“What I like to think about is what if one day I woke up without a voice, or without being able to read or being able to drink, eat food or speak. That’s something that a lot of people take for granted and when it’s gone, it’s such a big deal.”
“I think that’s why it’s so inspiring because you’re giving back people’s rights to communicate and swallow,” Jess
What are the possible career paths?
At the end of the degree, you’ll already cover all aspects of speech pathology in various environments across different age groups. This means that you can basically pursue any area of specialisation or career pathway involving speech pathology.
Your career options may seem quite niche but there are actually a few options to you choose from, including:
- Speech pathologist
- Paediatric clinics
- Private practice
- Rehabilitation centres
- Palliative care
- Community health sectors
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.