Second preference success

A scattered road to success

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Written By

Hannah Gray


College of Science and Engineering

Publish Date

9 December 2019

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If at first you don’t succeed ...

Second preference doesn’t mean a second-best degree. If you were unable to enrol in your first preference of degree or even your first preference of university, your future is not about to end. In fact, it’s only just beginning.

RJ Ballada knows this well. Though he has found success through studying a Bachelor of Advanced Science, it was not his first preference.

When RJ was applying for university, studying medicine seemed like a natural choice. “I have always wanted to help people, especially medically,” he says. “I’m really interested in the techniques used to treat people as well. I wanted to invent new ways to help people.”

RJ applied for JCU's Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree (MBBS), which is the only six-year undergraduate medical course offered in northern Australia. However, RJ wasn’t admitted due to his Year 12 results being below the minimum requirement. “Ever since I was little, I wanted to do medicine,” he says. “It did kind of feel like losing a dream.”

RJ Ballada

JCU Advanced Science Student

Exploring different pathways

But RJ knew that his initial choice of degree wasn’t his only hope, and so he sought to choose a different interest and a different degree to accompany it.

“I was interested in Chemistry all throughout high school, so I thought a degree in science would be best for me,” RJ explains. “At first I wanted to do a Bachelor of Science, but then I saw the Bachelor of Advanced Science and decided to give it a go because I thought it would be more challenging.”

Majoring in Chemistry and Mathematics, RJ has found his suspicions to be correct. “It is challenging, and some of my subjects are hard. But some of them are easier. And even with the harder subjects, the degree is enjoyable,” RJ says.

“Having that balance of challenging but rewarding is really good.”

RJ also points to the choices he gets to make with his degree as something that he values. “I can focus on what I want to learn based on what I’m interested in. The structure of the degree isn’t as rigid as other degrees.”

He attributes his enjoyment of his degree to the university as well. “The environment is really good. I can get motivated when I come to the uni. The open space is less restricting, and it puts me in a mindset to learn.”

Clearly, RJ is satisfied with the degree that he has chosen, but medicine was his dream. Doesn’t he wish he could still do it?

Not necessarily. “Medicine had been a dream of mine,” RJ says, “but I think that Advanced Science is actually better for me personally because I can take different classes and learn a lot of subjects. Sometimes I think I’m actually glad I ended up doing Advanced Science instead of Medicine.”

Having almost finished his first year in Advanced Science and looking forward to what the next two years of his degree will bring, RJ is excited about the new things his future will hold. The key is that he’s embracing the freedom that comes from having many different paths that he could take.

“At the moment I don’t really have a plan career-wise. I think that doing Advanced Science will help me find what I like and what I’m interested in and what I’d want to pursue once I have my degree.”

"Do some research before you go for your second preference, but don't be afraid to try it. Also, try finding something completely different from your first choice because you might find you enjoy it more."
RJ Ballada, JCU Advanced Science Student

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As for people who find themselves in the same place as himself, RJ offers this advice.

“If you’re determined to stay with your first preference, you can always pursue transferring after doing some more learning.

“Do some research before you go for your second preference to make sure you really want to do that, but don’t be afraid to try it. Also, try finding something completely different from your first choice because you might find you enjoy it more.”

The journey to your future often leads you down paths you may not have thought you would take. But each path is valuable, and each step takes you further towards your goals, even if those goals change.

No matter what your result is, it's all about choices. Discover your options with Change of Preference.

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