One of the major decisions you make during the HSC year is what you want to do after you’ve finished.
For me, the hardest part was knowing whether I had made the right decision.
So what happens if you do make the wrong decision?
Our Coach of the Month for July 2017, Hannah Easton, found this out the hard way!
After leaving high school, Hannah decided to study Mechanical Engineering and eventually realised it wasn’t the right choice.
So, let’s find out what happened when Hannah changed degrees!
Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do after high school?
When I started Year 10, I decided that I wanted to get into Engineering after finishing school.
I remember watching the special features for the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and there were a couple of pieces on the ride at Disneyland and the imagineers that built it. That was when I though “Wouldn’t that be an awesome job – that’s what I want to do in the future.”
From there I picked my senior subjects and university preferences based on wanting to study Mechanical Engineering, and that made it easy for me.
But… a little over a year into my degree I decided that maybe Mechanical Engineering wasn’t for me, and I transferred into Data Science.
So maybe I didn’t have such a clear idea after all!
What was the transition from High School to University like for you?
My transition was fairly smooth actually. Coming out of the HSC, I knew what I wanted to do at uni, and once I got my ATAR and had guaranteed entry for my course it was straightforward enough to enrol.
I was never particularly worried or anxious about starting uni; I knew that it would be a totally new experience and I’d be thrown into the unknown, but also that I would get used to it pretty quickly.
I was grateful to have a few school friends in one of my classes, so I had some company and support during the transition. Uni is both similar and different to high school, but if you are motivated, organised and independent enough then you will slide into it fine!
What happened when you decided to change degrees?
I was studying Mechanical Engineering, but I felt like it wasn’t the best fit for me. There was a period in my second year where I had a bunch of work that I had to do… but I didn’t want to do any of it. I wasn’t motivated to face the challenge of completing this work to a standard I would be happy with, which was an indicator for me that I wasn’t doing the right degree.
Once I started to think about why I didn’t want to do my work, and I realised it was because I didn’t have a great interest in what I was learning, in particular the applications in the real world.
This ultimately led to me deciding that Mechanical Engineering wasn’t for me; I really want to enjoy what I am studying, and I wasn’t with MechEng.
Was it easy to make the change once you’d made the decision?
The actual process of changing degrees was actually really easy. I had a quick chat with an academic advisor to make sure I was making the right decision. I also had to make sure I satisfied the requirements regarding my academic performance and courses, but these were straightforward and I had satisfied them easily. Then I had to complete an application online and then wait for confirmation.
The most difficult part was actually making the decision to change degrees – once I had made it, the process was easy!
Why did you decide to move into Data Science instead?
I came across a video about the UNSW Data Science degree on YouTube. So when I started investigating options other than Engineering, I looked further into the degree. The degree appealed to me as a maths based degree that had real-world applications and quite varied and interesting courses of study. Right now I’m half-way into my first semester of this degree and I am really enjoying it!
Once I realised this I was actually pretty devastated. I had been planning on studying Engineering for years, and I suddenly was about to change that. But I was also a bit relieved as well as excited to start my new degree. But I was happy with my decision, however, and I still am!
Data Science is a new field that has developed from the rise of the “big data world.”
Data Scientists use statistics and programming skills, along with their own problem solving skills and curiosity, to analyse large amounts of data, spot trends and help companies make decisions.
Because Data Science is a relatively new field, my degree is actually new at UNSW this year. It is a mix of mathematics/statistics, computer science and economics courses, with the choice to major in one of those areas (I am majoring in Quantitative Data Science i.e. Maths).
What is your advice to students unsure about their decisions regarding university?
For students worried they will make the wrong decision in Year 12:
University has such a wide range of options, and other post-high school opportunities present an even greater range, so it is, of course, really difficult to find what is right for you first try. There is flexibility to change what you’re studying if you don’t enjoy it, so don’t feel like you are stuck with what you choose right now!
Hannah’s Top Tips
- Figure out what it is that you enjoy, both within school and outside of it. Have a look at what courses you can study in different degrees, and try to pick courses you are interested in and figure out from there what degree you could do with them.
- Do your research – attend open days, look on uni websites, explore the UAC guide, chat with current uni students – this way you will get a better sense of what you may be interested in, and also what you might want to avoid.
- Follow your passions, but don’t be afraid to follow them somewhere unexpected!
To students who are considering changing degrees:
If you aren’t happy with your degree then don’t be afraid to look for other options.
It is better to spend an extra year or two studying something you enjoy than to spend the rest of your life doing work you don’t. Speak to an academic advisor if you want some guidance, or ask other students about their experiences.
Make the choice that is best for you, and follow your passions!
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Isabella Hanley loves science. She loves science so much she’s making it her career. While completing her Bachelor of Medical Science she is also a Coach and Digital Content Manager at Art of Smart. She is super passionate about sharing her knowledge on surviving the HSC since completing the HSC herself in 2014. In her downtime she enjoys Netflix binging like a pro, singing in the shower and baking cakes that are almost as tall as she is.