Need some uni degree advice (1 Viewer)

Minari243

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So like many people out there I wanted to do medicine at basically any university possible and set medical science as my backup. Then I began hearing lots of bad things about medical science like how its extremely high supply from those who couldn't get into medicine and low demand leading to sparse employment opportunities. so THEN I switched to just a bachelor of science (I love bio n chem) since if I can't get into medicine at least I would study something I really like while also trying out for postgrad med. After that I flopped my UCAT and got an uncompetitive result. While applying for early entries, my backups were still bachelor of science and I got conditional offers for USYD and UNSW, with 6k scholarship for both of them. As HSC went by, I found out how the bachelor of science is apparently 'useless' without a masters or PhD and that researcher jobs are riddled with low job security and low pay.

I kept looking at other options such as optometry, physiotherapy, radiography, etc but if my end goal is medicine I feel like I would be wasting time study those extra few years studying them. I am also kind of interested in engineering and I looked at chemical or biomedical engineering. I thought of doing a double degree with engineering and science but that is 5 years and I feel like I'd be wasting time if I end up doing postgrad medicine again. For now I think I'm still set on bachelor of science but also considering biomedical engineering with usyd since their degree is 4 years instead of UNSW's 5 year masters. However I still feel pretty iffy about science and I feel like a big reason that I am sticking with it right now is because of the scholarship.

There's just so many factors to juggle and I feel like I either have to fully focus on medicine but risk changing my mind and having a bad backup or having a good backup but also giving up my scholarship, studying more years, and studying something that I won't like as much as science. If anyone has any advice or experience in the degrees I listed on my really complicated situation I would really appreciate it! I feel really stuck right now and the last day to change preferences is coming closer and closer. Thanks in advance.
 

jazz519

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The science degree is not entirely useless. It depends what type of one it is though. If you are just doing a bachelor of science then yeah it will be difficult to get a job in a research facility or industry because you have no actual lab skills in the degree. By lab skills I'm not referring to following a set method in lab classes, which although are technically knowledge gained it doesn't really help that much since in the real world there won't always be a simple method to follow. If you incorporate an honours year into the degree (which is like doing 1 year of a research project), that will make you more employable and also having actual lab skills where you need to plan your own things, use machines/equipment that is used in industry/research and be able to problem solve when things don't go to plan.

Aside from that you can take your own initiative and contact supervisors by email and ask them if they will allow you to help on some research projects. That way you will get experience, it's basically the internship equivalent for a science degree doing those kind of activities

You will still be limited in some regard compared to someone more qualified with masters or PhD but you should be able to get a job in industry if you have done honours and demonstrated some level of skills through engaging in projects to gain experience
 

dasfas

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Hahaha, I had the exact exact same crisis as you 2 years ago. I considered literally the exact same degree choices and ended up changing my major literally 50 times before I enrolled. It's good that you're thinking of these things now :)

I started off with a double major in Biochemistry and Immunology. I ended up transferring to Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science. I am very happy now. Happy to answer more questions.

I am planning on pursuing medicine postgrad. My undergrad degree is 5 years long which means that I will graduate with an MD in 9 years (5+4) whereas people who went straight into undergrad med will graduate in 6. Personally, that doesn't bother me too much. I am interested in becoming a physician scientist so my broad background in BME/CS will be suuper helpful. However, those are 3 years of extra education, and this means 3 years not earning money and 3 years closer to having kids.

So perhaps a 3 or 4 year undergrad degree is better. I'm not sure if you've ever programmed before, but definitely try a programming unit if you haven't before. If you like it, then Computer Science/Data Science are fantastic premed options that are in demand in basically every field (science, tech, finance). You can graduate from USYD in 3 years with a major in Computer Science. Or 4 years with a double in Biochemistry/Computer Science.
 

jazz519

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Aside from that don't base your decision for a degree off a scholarship. Although, it is great if that is the degree you want to do, that 6k a year is very little compared to the money you can make after the degree is over. In Australia you don't need to pay the fees upfront as it goes to HECs so having a 30k debt from the degree over the 4 years or so, is not going to damage your future. That can be paid off easily once you start an actual job
 

dasfas

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Also, you need to be wary of is choosing something purely to be a backup, when you have no real passion for it. This is a mistake I almost made when I was in your shoes.

For example, I chose Biomedical Engineering. I know that this is probably not the best engineering degree for jobs as it has a much narrower range of options (biomed companies) whereas mech/elec engineers can also typically apply to the same jobs as they have more specialised skills. Plus mech/elec can apply to their own job postings.

Nonetheless, I don't have a true interest in the mech/elec fields, so I would have ended up doing poorly in those degrees compared to in biomed. Further, some unis (none in Aus, but some overseas) require a biomedical science type degree to enter postgrad medicine, hence me picking mech/elec would have prevented me from being able to apply.

So moral of the story is try to balance backup plan with something you will enjoy studying.
 

Minari243

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The science degree is not entirely useless. It depends what type of one it is though. If you are just doing a bachelor of science then yeah it will be difficult to get a job in a research facility or industry because you have no actual lab skills in the degree. By lab skills I'm not referring to following a set method in lab classes, which although are technically knowledge gained it doesn't really help that much since in the real world there won't always be a simple method to follow. If you incorporate an honours year into the degree (which is like doing 1 year of a research project), that will make you more employable and also having actual lab skills where you need to plan your own things, use machines/equipment that is used in industry/research and be able to problem solve when things don't go to plan.

Aside from that you can take your own initiative and contact supervisors by email and ask them if they will allow you to help on some research projects. That way you will get experience, it's basically the internship equivalent for a science degree doing those kind of activities

You will still be limited in some regard compared to someone more qualified with masters or PhD but you should be able to get a job in industry if you have done honours and demonstrated some level of skills through engaging in projects to gain experience
Thank you for the reply! That was really helpful and informative. In terms of jobs that you can get from the degree, is it true that its usually contract jobs like I've heard in articles and forums? Is a major in pathology or molecular biology good for job prospects?
 

Minari243

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Hahaha, I had the exact exact same crisis as you 2 years ago. I considered literally the exact same degree choices and ended up changing my major literally 50 times before I enrolled. It's good that you're thinking of these things now :)

I started off with a double major in Biochemistry and Immunology. I ended up transferring to Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science. I am very happy now. Happy to answer more questions.

I am planning on pursuing medicine postgrad. My undergrad degree is 5 years long which means that I will graduate with an MD in 9 years (5+4) whereas people who went straight into undergrad med will graduate in 6. Personally, that doesn't bother me too much. I am interested in becoming a physician scientist so my broad background in BME/CS will be suuper helpful. However, those are 3 years of extra education, and this means 3 years not earning money and 3 years closer to having kids.

So perhaps a 3 or 4 year undergrad degree is better. I'm not sure if you've ever programmed before, but definitely try a programming unit if you haven't before. If you like it, then Computer Science/Data Science are fantastic premed options that are in demand in basically every field (science, tech, finance). You can graduate from USYD in 3 years with a major in Computer Science. Or 4 years with a double in Biochemistry/Computer Science.
Wow what a coincidence! Yeah I feel like taking a 5 year degree will make me spend years that would become unnecessary to my life if I were to continue pursuing postgrad medicine but it also means I would have a solid backup that I would enjoy. I would take an extra year to ensure a good backup option but I feel like stretching it to 2- 3 years would be overdoing it since its likely that I would continue to try to pursue medicine.

Does biomed teach the subjects required for GAMSAT? Also what about biomed interests you the most?

I've done python in a yr 10 coding club and I really enjoyed it. I also did software design and development (Mostly used VB.net) for year 11 but I dropped it because one of the coding projects felt extremely tedious and highkey unsatisfying after spending so much effort on it even though it worked perfectly in the end. I'm a bit hesitant in doing coding in uni but I'm sure it would probably be very different since the SDD syllabus was made in 2010. Even though I like the coding I don't think I'd particularly enjoy data science or computer science. Do you think doing biomed engineering/bachelor of science would be a good idea? Otherwise I think I might just go with advanced science unless anything else pops up.
 

Minari243

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Aside from that don't base your decision for a degree off a scholarship. Although, it is great if that is the degree you want to do, that 6k a year is very little compared to the money you can make after the degree is over. In Australia you don't need to pay the fees upfront as it goes to HECs so having a 30k debt from the degree over the 4 years or so, is not going to damage your future. That can be paid off easily once you start an actual job
Thanks for the insight! I contacted usyd and apparently they can transfer my scholarship to another course if I meet the standard entry. However I'll definitely still try to choose my degree mainly based on other factors.
 

Minari243

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Also, you need to be wary of is choosing something purely to be a backup, when you have no real passion for it. This is a mistake I almost made when I was in your shoes.

For example, I chose Biomedical Engineering. I know that this is probably not the best engineering degree for jobs as it has a much narrower range of options (biomed companies) whereas mech/elec engineers can also typically apply to the same jobs as they have more specialised skills. Plus mech/elec can apply to their own job postings.

Nonetheless, I don't have a true interest in the mech/elec fields, so I would have ended up doing poorly in those degrees compared to in biomed. Further, some unis (none in Aus, but some overseas) require a biomedical science type degree to enter postgrad medicine, hence me picking mech/elec would have prevented me from being able to apply.

So moral of the story is try to balance backup plan with something you will enjoy studying.
Yeah I feel like for engineering I'd want to atleast incorporate bio/chem elements into it with biomed if I were to choose it as a backup. I definitely won't choose a degree for its job prospects etc over my interest and passion in them.
 

jazz519

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Thank you for the reply! That was really helpful and informative. In terms of jobs that you can get from the degree, is it true that its usually contract jobs like I've heard in articles and forums? Is a major in pathology or molecular biology good for job prospects?
Not sure about those 2 types of majors, however there are a decent number of companies like pharmaceuticals and genetic testing so if you look in the right place should be able to still find a job
 

dasfas

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Thank you for the reply! That was really helpful and informative. In terms of jobs that you can get from the degree, is it true that its usually contract jobs like I've heard in articles and forums? Is a major in pathology or molecular biology good for job prospects?
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is the most versatile of the biological science majors, so you should be okay. But yeah, typically contract jobs. What I would suggest is going into seek, linkedin, indeed (job posting sites) and writing keywords such as biochemistry. See what pops up - particularly employment type (contract or full-time), salary, degree etc..

Wow what a coincidence! Yeah I feel like taking a 5 year degree will make me spend years that would become unnecessary to my life if I were to continue pursuing postgrad medicine but it also means I would have a solid backup that I would enjoy. I would take an extra year to ensure a good backup option but I feel like stretching it to 2- 3 years would be overdoing it since its likely that I would continue to try to pursue medicine.

I've done python in a yr 10 coding club and I really enjoyed it. I also did software design and development (Mostly used VB.net) for year 11 but I dropped it because one of the coding projects felt extremely tedious and highkey unsatisfying after spending so much effort on it even though it worked perfectly in the end. I'm a bit hesitant in doing coding in uni but I'm sure it would probably be very different since the SDD syllabus was made in 2010. Even though I like the coding I don't think I'd particularly enjoy data science or computer science. Do you think doing biomed engineering/bachelor of science would be a good idea? Otherwise I think I might just go with advanced science unless anything else pops up.
The computer science faculty at USYD is fantastic. Every course is really well run, so definitely give one a go. The introductory unit (INFO1110) is pretty brutal if you haven't programmed before, but you can do very well if you make sure to keep up with the lecture content.

Biomedical Engineering has a decent amount of programming in it, as you will be learning MATLAB (basically using programming to solve maths problems) and some C++ I believe (for signal processing). But nothing quite as rigorous as CompSci.

I think Engineering/Science is a fantastic choice. I'm doing that right now. However, yeah, it is 5 years, so you gotta think about that. Currently I have no regrets but perhaps I will later when all my friends are graduated and earning money whereas I'm still studying.

Thanks for the insight! I contacted usyd and apparently they can transfer my scholarship to another course if I meet the standard entry. However I'll definitely still try to choose my degree mainly based on other factors.
Yeah, most scholarships are like that.

Yeah I feel like for engineering I'd want to atleast incorporate bio/chem elements into it with biomed if I were to choose it as a backup. I definitely won't choose a degree for its job prospects etc over my interest and passion in them.
BME has chemistry as a core unit, so you gotta do it. You can actually technically triple major as Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Biochemistry as you have a ton of electives, but personally I decided against it as I wanted to take humanities courses because I don't want to only ever to STEM. Branching out is important.

Does biomed teach the subjects required for GAMSAT? Also what about biomed interests you the most?
No subject is required for the GAMSAT. Biomedical Engineering by itself is decent preparation You'll definitely be comfortable with all the mental maths needed as well as some of the chemistry. However, personally I'm taking electives to prepare for it. I'm taking biochemistry, organic chemistry and philosophy as the GAMSAT is 60% humanities (reading comprehension, essays) and 40% science.

Tbh, I kinda picked biomedical engineering because I felt like I wouldn't be challenging myself that much in biochemistry/immunology. That's not to say that biochem/immunology is easier, but it definitely is my strength and passion. I wanted to challenge myself and learn a highly quantitative field before entering medicine, which is more learning concepts and less quantitative stuff. I also wanted to learn "skills" rather than just content (that is easily forgotten).
 

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I've always been told that the engineering/comp sci faculty in usyd isn't that great as usyd is more of an arts/law uni and that unsw is far better for engineering and comp sci. What's your personal opinion on this as I am looking into comp sci
Ehh, nah. USYD compsci is fantastic - genuinely the best run courses out of all the faculties imo. USYD engo is a bit worse, they do have their terrible lecturers from time to time, but my overall experience has been good.

UNSW does have a much bigger compsci scene, and their society is much larger than USYD's one. I wouldn't say the teaching is significantly different between unis, you'll be working hard regardless of which one you go to. I guess what is important is what degree progression you prefer, and whether you can deal with trimesters (typically a pain for internships/going away with friends tbh).

Ultimately, you can't really go wrong with USYD/UNSW. Your education is going to be pretty similar. It's up to you to a) self learn and do your projects so you can apply for internships b) make the most of whichever uni you decide to go. You will have heaps of opportunities at both unis.
 

Minari243

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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is the most versatile of the biological science majors, so you should be okay. But yeah, typically contract jobs. What I would suggest is going into seek, linkedin, indeed (job posting sites) and writing keywords such as biochemistry. See what pops up - particularly employment type (contract or full-time), salary, degree etc..



The computer science faculty at USYD is fantastic. Every course is really well run, so definitely give one a go. The introductory unit (INFO1110) is pretty brutal if you haven't programmed before, but you can do very well if you make sure to keep up with the lecture content.

Biomedical Engineering has a decent amount of programming in it, as you will be learning MATLAB (basically using programming to solve maths problems) and some C++ I believe (for signal processing). But nothing quite as rigorous as CompSci.

I think Engineering/Science is a fantastic choice. I'm doing that right now. However, yeah, it is 5 years, so you gotta think about that. Currently I have no regrets but perhaps I will later when all my friends are graduated and earning money whereas I'm still studying.



Yeah, most scholarships are like that.



BME has chemistry as a core unit, so you gotta do it. You can actually technically triple major as Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Biochemistry as you have a ton of electives, but personally I decided against it as I wanted to take humanities courses because I don't want to only ever to STEM. Branching out is important.



No subject is required for the GAMSAT. Biomedical Engineering by itself is decent preparation You'll definitely be comfortable with all the mental maths needed as well as some of the chemistry. However, personally I'm taking electives to prepare for it. I'm taking biochemistry, organic chemistry and philosophy as the GAMSAT is 60% humanities (reading comprehension, essays) and 40% science.

Tbh, I kinda picked biomedical engineering because I felt like I wouldn't be challenging myself that much in biochemistry/immunology. That's not to say that biochem/immunology is easier, but it definitely is my strength and passion. I wanted to challenge myself and learn a highly quantitative field before entering medicine, which is more learning concepts and less quantitative stuff. I also wanted to learn "skills" rather than just content (that is easily forgotten).
Thanks for all that, it was really helpful. Before you chose engineering what led you to choose it? I personally haven't done engineering studies or physics so I don't really know if I'll enjoy it or not.
 

Minari243

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Not sure about those 2 types of majors, however there are a decent number of companies like pharmaceuticals and genetic testing so if you look in the right place should be able to still find a job
Also what's the difference between advanced science and science? Would the overall coursework be harder? Can I not do the honours year if I get into medicine and just graduate with a bachelor of science?
 

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Thanks for all that, it was really helpful. Before you chose engineering what led you to choose it? I personally haven't done engineering studies or physics so I don't really know if I'll enjoy it or not.
I liked the idea of learning skills, rather than just content. I felt like that would be more useful in research. Also engineering was a backup if med didn't work out.
 

dasfas

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is it true that software engineering is more content heavy and 'clear-cut' than computer science which is more hands-on and creative?
I guess you could kinda say that. Software Engineering has more practical applications whereas Comp Sci also has units that are purely programming, but also units that are purely theoretical and explore how computers/algorithms work in-depth. Generally I would recommend CS over SENG, but that's just my opinion. They are honestly quite similar
 
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jazz519

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Also what's the difference between advanced science and science? Would the overall coursework be harder? Can I not do the honours year if I get into medicine and just graduate with a bachelor of science?
The advanced science one often has a higher ATAR entry. In terms of the difference in the degree, you have to do the higher level subjects when there are options. For example, in first year chemistry, it was a requirement of my degree that I had to higher chemistry 1A and higher chemistry 1B. While in the bachelor of science degree you can choose to either to do the easier version or the harder version of the course.

The honours year is integrated into the degree in advanced science, while for bachelor of science you have to apply for it.

The honours is the 4th year of the degree and you have to apply for it during the 3rd year because you have to meet with potential supervisors and it's not like first come / first served. Higher your mark is the greater priority you get in being to get your first preference of a supervisor. You can't like come back to uni after the degree is over and then apply to do honours
 

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