Hi there, I’m Jordan, a Bachelor of Media and Communication student in his final year. To you, it might seem like this is a fairly straightforward graduating student story, but let me tell you, it was not. Read along as I take you on a journey through my life, which has led me to be in a position to graduate with a second degree.
The first hurdle (of many)
Before I had really progressed through school, I had already hit the first bump in the road. At 8, I was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) which affects 3-5% of school children, meaning that I struggle with understanding speech at times and being attentive in a loud and busy environment.
With the help of the amazing SSOs at my primary school (Woodend Primary), I underwent therapy and took part in special programs designed to help me hear better. I still struggle to this day, but it could have been a lot worse.
After making it through primary school, high school promised to be a fresh start to determine what job field I wanted to pursue. However, it was not quite that easy. By the time I had hit Year 12, I was a C+/C- average grade student and just getting by.
My greatest fear was that my time in school was for nothing, I would struggle to find a job, and crucially I wouldn’t make it to university to fulfil my dream of being a schoolteacher (more on that later).
Don’t let your ATAR define you
After I completed my Year 12 exams, I began to fantasise about the studies I would do, the classrooms in which I would teach. I knew that my grades were nothing special, but I was convinced that most, if not all, students are given opportunities to take whatever grades they get and apply them to their desired job fields. Given everyone I knew in school had ambitions of university or other studies, I was hopeful I could be like them.
Then came my Record of Achievement. ATAR score: 46! I was flabbergasted, shocked, anxious, angry; pretty much every emotion you can think of. I did not believe that despite my low grades, I could have scored that low. I had sunk into a pretty dark place where I thought that I had no destiny and would serve little to no purpose in life.
A couple of weeks later, I was informed of an alternative pathway into university, the Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT). This is an alternative way for prospective students to prove they have the capacity to earn a university-level education without factoring in their ATAR score.
I ventured into the city, sat the two-hour test, and eagerly awaited my results. It was essentially like sitting Year 12 Maths and English exams in one test, so my general aptitude was not a concern. After receiving my results and passing that test, I applied at Flinders University for a Bachelor of Education (Primary R-7) as my 1st preference, and to my amazement, I got in. The dream was still alive.
Having started in 2016, three years had passed, and my topic grades were good, but I never felt a sense of achievement on placements. When I undertook my final year placement in 2019, I was massively out of my league and felt like I was not up to standard as a teacher should be.
This burden, combined with conversations with my placement school and my course supervisor, meant that I had no choice but to exit as I would not sufficiently complete my final placement. This was a tough decision, but one that had to be made.
I felt like I had wasted 3 ½ years of my life, only to just then find out I was not good enough, giving me flashbacks to Year 12. I was given the option to exit with a modified education degree, and promptly finished my study and left.
My experience doing the Bachelor of Media and Communication
After exiting with a Bachelor of Education Studies, I began 6 months of reflection, figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. Following some extensive thinking, I turned my attention to my newly discovered dream of being a sports journalist/commentator. I knew I had always loved sports and talking about all things sport – you can see this on my blog (shameless plug, I know) – and was determined to work harder to make this happen.
With the assistance of the Ask Flinders team, to whom I owe a great amount for being patient with my constant requests for information, I applied and successfully enrolled in the Bachelor of Media and Communication from 2020. I chose this degree because despite my interest in journalism, offered strictly at other universities, I did not want to pigeonhole myself in case I had another change of heart throughout my studies.
The amazing thing about the Media and Communication degree is how diverse it is. I went into the degree with a narrow-minded approach, focused on journalism, but the sheer amount of stuff you learn throughout the three years is insane.
I did photography classes, PR and professional communication classes, studied sociology, analysed social media marketing trends, created concept art for a video game, designed a Covid-safe workout program and most importantly, learnt the ins and outs of journalism.
My transition into my second degree was seamless, it was like I had never left, except for COVID taking its toll. Some classes went online, with the software Collaborate dominating my screen time, but I would still spend sufficient time with my group of friends that I had made. I found making a new group of friends at university fairly easy (despite the awkward icebreaker activities we always ended up doing), and I’m glad I ended up coming back for a second try.
What I learned during my placement
In my final year, I undertook my placement (I’m doing it as I write this article, breaking that fourth wall down!). I was fortunate to work with the marketing and communications team here at Flinders in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, alongside Sophie and Jess.
The internship might not have been what I thought I would be doing in this degree, but it turned out to be one of the most important steps in terms of my professional development. That is one thing I would say about placements, don’t just limit yourself to your field of interest, it doesn’t hurt to try something new sometimes.
Coming from a strictly retail working background, working for an institution like Flinders was a whole new level of professionalism. My days used to be just studying during the day, then working at night and playing AFL for the Flinders Uni Football Club on the weekends.
Now I essentially added a new part-time job with my placement which has helped me mature greatly. Experiences like this placement help to get students in the mindset for what is expected of them in the working world, and something which I wish I had done sooner.
Where to from here
The future is looking as promising as it ever has for me. If you had come to me 7 years ago, after flopping my high school ATAR, and had told me that I would not only have made it into university but also have two degrees, I would’ve told you to wake me up because I was obviously dreaming.
Now, my goal is to take the qualifications I possess and make a difference in my fields of choice. I am still heavily focused on making a mark in the journalism world and becoming a sportswriter/commentator. That being said, the Media and Communication degree has opened up my world to a variety of different employment opportunities, so I know I have the skill set to work in a variety of areas.
My advice to future students would be that no matter what hurdles you must overcome throughout any point in life, there is support out there for you. No matter how low you might be feeling about your studies and whether you think your life is heading somewhere or not, there are people out there who can help you. I thought after high school I was a nobody, destined to do nothing, but now I’m in my second degree, and that’s because of the support I sought out.
Author: Jordan Marsden, Media and Communication student