Why I extended my degree

As I introduced myself as a fourth year to others in class, many gave me confused looks.

“So, why are you still here? Did you fail a subject or something?”

“Umm…excuse me?”

You know, it’s perfectly normal for people to take longer than the standard 3 years to finish their undergrad degree. In fact – it’s becoming the norm nowadays!

There are many reasons why some take longer to finish their undergrad degrees. Some may have taken time off, some may have studied part-time and worked, and yes – some may have failed their subjects so they had to stick around (not that there’s anything wrong with that. We are only human, not need to judge.)

My reasons for sticking around an extra semester don’t fall into any of the categories above. My decision to stay at Melbourne for another semester was because I couldn’t cope with doing 4 subjects a semester.

I mean, I could’ve done it, but at the expense of my wellbeing.

Doing 4 subjects a semester wasn’t for me

I survived doing 4 subjects a semester in first year just fine. Then I got to second year, and the workload got to me. I found it really hard to juggle 4 subjects, work part-time, run this blog, and deal with life in general!

The first few weeks of second year doing 4 subjects was quite stressful and overwhelming. I was hoping that I would adjust to the increased workload, but things weren’t getting any better.

So I went to my student centre to chat to the advisors about my options, and she floated the idea of dropping down to 3 subjects and extending my degree.

I wasn’t too keen on the idea at first

I have to stick around for an extra semester? Whaaaat?

I really didn’t want to extend my degree because I wanted to graduate with my friends.

But once my head wasn’t clouded with naiive thoughts, I realised it wasn’t that bad of an idea. Sure it would suck not graduating with close friends, but this would work out better for me.

Re-organising my study plan

I underloaded, and did 3 subjects a semester instead of the standard 4. I also enrolled into intensive subjects over summer to free up time during the standard semester.

Side note – I wished someone told me about intensive subjects when I was in first year. Yes they are, intense, but you knock out an entire subject in a week or two and frees up your study load during normal semester.

Dropping down to 3 subjects was great because I’m still classified as a full-time student. If I went down to 2, I’d be part-time and I won’t be eligible for a concession card for public transport (boo!).

So, my study plan structure looks a bit like this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 11.11.31 pm

There have been times where I questioned my decision to stick around an extra semester

You know how I mentioned earlier about how it would suck to not graduate with your friends?

Not going to lie – but yes, it sucked. A lot.

Not graduating with some of my close friends last year was slightly heartbreaking. Although I was really really happy for them, it felt like I was being left behind.

IMG_5663

Starting this semester without the usual crew of friends around has been strange and somewhat lonely. Although some of them are now doing postgrad at Melbourne, it’s not the same.

But you know what, extending my degree has worked out in my favour – big time!

The benefits of graduating mid-year

There are a number of positives behind extending your degree and graduating mid-year, here are a few positives I have under my sleeve:

1. I managed to study abroad

Studying overseas has always been something I wanted to do in my degree, but never got around to organising it and left it too late. If I hadn’t extended my degree, I wouldn’t have been to study abroad in Peru last summer!

DSC05836

2. I get to graduate at Wilson Hall

This is probably the best thing about graduating mid-year – getting to graduate at Wilson Hall instead of REB (Royal Exhibition Building).

REB gives me bad exam vibes (for those who are new, REB is also used as an exam venue). Plus I dislike the layout of the stage.

At Wilson Hall, everyone is facing the stage. Whereas in REB, your family and friends are facing the side of the stage, and they can only see you from the big screens.

IMG_0784Wilson Hall is a smaller and cosier venue. Plus it’s located on campus – meaning it’s super convenient to take photos of you in your gown around the Old Quad and other iconic buildings.

And another big plus about graduating at Wilson Hall is that ceremony times are shorter because there are less people!

3. Extra time to figure out plans after graduation

Extending my degree has given me extra time to think about that dreaded question – “What are you going to do when you graduate?”

And the answer is, to take time off studying! I’ve been studying for majority of my life, and you know, I need a break and live a little.

Graduating mid-year works out really well for me in that I wanted time off studying, but didn’t want to start Masters mid-year and didn’t want to take a whole year off studying (if this makes any sense at all).

So, it’s a win-win.

And lastly…

4. I have extra time to enjoy my degree!

Doing 3 subjects instead of 4 has freed up time for me to enjoy life a little more. I don’t want to look back at my time at uni and regret not going to all the fun social events, and I don’t want my time at uni to be 100% about the books.

There needs to be a healthy mix of academia and umm…social outings.

So, if you’re finding it tough juggling 4 subjects – the option to reduce your study load and extending your degree is there. I can’t say how it’s worked out for other people in this boat, but I’m glad I took this option.

– Daphane

9 Responses to “Why I extended my degree”

  1. Carra Simpson

    Extending a year with no regrets haha, great post.. and I completely agree, why didn’t anyone tell me about intensives earlier!?

    Reply
  2. Manuela Frey

    I think I may need to show this to everyone who asks me why I’m only doing three subjects instead of four! The part I hate most though is that half pity/half condescending look people give you when you tell them you’re underloading.

    I’d rather do well in three subjects at once (than struggle with four), have less stress (and therefore more motivation) and be happy than try and get my degree done in three years! (Plus, extra time to go overseas ;-) )

    Reply
    • Daphane Ng

      Yes I get that look from people too! I’m struggling as it is to handle 3 subjects, can’t imagine doing 4 again.

      Reply
  3. Em

    Hey Daphane, does it cost more to underload and only do 3 subjects? Like does it affect HECS or anything? I’m in first year and am considering structuring my degree like this, jsut wanted some advice (btw I love your blog, I started reading it back in early yr 12 days…)

    Reply
    • Daphane Ng

      Hey Em! *blushes* Thanks for the complement!

      In regards to costs etc. As far as I’m concern, dropping down to 3 subjects hasn’t affected my HECs and the costs have stayed the same per subject. If you’re on Centrelink or anything like that, it’s probably worth checking to see if your benefits will be affected or not.

      Reply
  4. Maddy

    Yay Daph! Thanks for writing this, I completely agree. I’ve just done an overseas subject in the summer and now with three subjects I’ll never go back!

    I was apprehensive at first of underloading. But hey people say undergraduate are some of the most fun years so why not hang around a little longer :)

    Reply
  5. Yasmine

    Thank you so much for this post Daph! I’m almost exactly in the same situation you were in in second year. I want to do extremely well in all my subjects but I feel like the 4-subject workload is too much for me.

    An upside for me would be that since my closest friends are doing language diplomas, we’d probably all graduate mid-year together :)

    Also I want to do an overseas exchange too. I’m planning to perhaps go this upcoming summer or next winter break.. any recommendations on when is better to go? I hope I’m not deciding this all too late, I’ve booked a spot in a myWorld info session but I’m not sure what else I should be looking in to in organising an exchange.

    Reply
    • Daphane Ng

      Hey Yasmine! I don’t know how I managed a 4 subject workload back in first year. 3 for me right now is hard enough!

      If you’re thinking of doing Study Abroad (which is different to Exchange in that the study abroad does not involve going to a university that has an exchange agreement with Melbourne Uni), I’d recommend checking out Aim Overseas‘ website. That is the organisation I did my study abroad in Peru with and it’s a pretty straight forward process :)

      Good luck with your studies!
      Daph

      Reply

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