I just started a double degree (engineering and business) and holy shit I regret everything. THIS IS ME SCREAMING INTO THE ABYSS. I DONT KNOW HOW I'LL EVER MAKE IT TO MY FINAL YEAR
/SCREAMS INTO THE ABYSS WITH YOU/
Here’s a few things I wish I’d known before I started my double degree (+ a few things which have kept me sane since then!)
- I started my degree as a ‘social’ coffee drinker.
- NOW ITS LIKE WATER.
- PUMP THAT SHIT INTO MY BLOODSTREAM, IV DRIP, THERE IS NO LIFE BEFORE COFFEE
2. Student Discounts
- Reap the benefits of student discounts. Seriously.
- Know where the cheapest coffee is, transport subsidies, printing subsidies, student sales, student flights!
3. Shit happens, things change.
- Just because you hate something now, doesn’t mean you can’t love it later. The upshot being - just because you love something now, doesn’t mean you won’t hate it with the feverish passion of a thousand burning suns later.
- Your interests will change. Your goals, both academic and personal will change. That’s ok.
- Find something that motivates you to complete each degree. You may enjoy both your degrees equally. You may prefer one over the other - particularly if you’re still completing tedious core units for one degree whilst you get to do much more interesting advanced units for the other. Remind yourself why you’re doing this degree. Why are you doing double the workload, why is it worth the late nights, caffeine overdoses and the concurrent deadlines? Assess each degree independently of the other and find something which motivates you to study in that field.
- In my case, I was very demotivated halfway through my degree. Honestly speaking, in my 3/4th year, I was ready to drop my other degree and graduate with a single. I only continued my other degree after going on exchange (read: more holiday than study) and when I could finally do advanced units which were interesting to me.
- For others, changing degree (yes, even in 6th year) was the best choice for them. They’re much happier now, and much more driven - and it was their experience throughout their double degree that helped them realise their passion in another field. Sometimes, finding out what you hate is just as important as finding out what you love.
4. Save a first year unit for the end of your degree
- Ok, I shit you not.
- If your degree structure allows you to save an elective first year unit for your penultimate or final year, do it.
- Sure, its strange to walk into a class of freshers. When you inevitably have an ‘ice breaker’ exercise, watch in sick fascination as the majority of the class whips their head around incredulously as you introduce yourself as a “fifth year student”
- BUT BOY THE REWARDS ARE SWEET. For example, having a reduced workload so you can focus on your advanced units. Easy marks because you already know half the shit, and if not, you know where to find it.
- You already have half the transferrable skills (report writing, referencing, critical analysis, knowledge of HOW THE FUCK TO SUBMIT AN ASSIGNMENT THROUGH YOUR UNI SERVER) to do well. You could probably skip all the intro/ getting to know your way around the library resources classes.
- A relaxed class and a healthy boost to my GPA? Sign me up.
5. Use time to your advantage
- One of the things I’m grateful for is time.
- Its a long degree. Instinctively I knew this when I signed up - 5 to 7 years is a long time. But I only truly felt how long a period that time was when my friends with shorter degrees graduated and entered the workforce. And whilst I enjoy what I study, the mechanics and routine of going to uni and sitting exams etc remains tedious.
- But heck, I am grateful for the time and opportunity I’ve had to figure shit out in the safety of university.
- Professionally, I know the ins and outs of graduate job hunting. I have had the opportunity to ‘test run’ interviews etc, and learn about more opportunities with each passing cycle - the fairs, the assistance you can get at uni, the whole recruiting circus. I have a well established study system that works for me, featuring keyboard shortcuts, shitonnes of sticky notes and my weight in coffee. I know where to ask for help and I know which areas of campus are the best study spots and which places to avoid during mid-sem hell. I know what events my student society runs, and I know when there’s free breakfast during semester. I’m confident. I’m certainly not ready to face the workplace, but I’m more prepared that I would have been 3 years ago.
- Personally, I’m more confident in my identity and what direction I want to take in the future. I know what I like, what I dislike, and what I’m willing to sacrifice/invest for what ends. I’ve learnt a lot about how I handle stress, friendship and 8am non recorded classes (read: not well).
- Also, FIGURE OUT WHAT YOUR HIGHER DEGREE GRADUATE REQUIREMENTS ARE BECAUSE YOU HAVE TIME TO FIX THINGS. Do you need practical experience to graduate? Do you need to complete an internship unit? How many units of each degree do you need to complete? Have you completed the correct number of majors for each degree? Find out early, so you can amend your study plan.
6. Old habits die hard.
- AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH I HAVE YET TO GO A SEMESTER WITHOUT PULLING AN ALL NIGHTER, BLESS NAIVE FIRST YEAR ME.
- In saying that, use the length of your degree to develop good habits. Figure out what study method works for you, find out whether you’re more engaged in morning or evening classes. Where’s a decent study spot on campus?
- Don’t be afraid to apply the skills you’ve learnt from one degree to the other. Whether it be research skills, note taking habits or otherwise. Keep in mind the differences between each discipline.
- Work smart. By the time you’ve reached 3rd year, you’ll be at the halfway point. You know what lectures are like. You know what tutorials are like. You know which textbooks are worth the buy and what assessment structure suits you. Don’t be afraid to exploit that knowledge to forge a better semester for yourself.
Its a long journey. There’s going to be good days, shit days and then “fuck the world, what the hell is this” days. There’s going to be coinciding deadlines and insane exam timetables. And that’s not even counting the late night existential crises in between.
But you’re going to learn so much - both in an academic and personal sense. You’ll find out what you enjoy, what lecturers to avoid, what subjects bore you to death. You’ll meet so many people - inspirational people, motivational people, and some assholes. You’ll realise that fuck yes I can complete a 3000 word assignment the night before, and yes I can survive a 90% exam.
Remember you always have the freedom to choose. You don’t have to do it all at once - go on exchange, take a semester off, find something to break up the tedium of study. Sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is to figure out what’s best for you and pursuing it.
Good luck dear anon. You’re the first double degree anon to scream into the abyss - THIS IS ME SCREAMING ALONGSIDE YOU OH MY GOD YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
All the best,