Things I’ve Learnt from My Time at UniMelb

February 15, 2018

As I head into my fourth (wow I’m old) and hopefully final year of my Arts degree, this is the perfect time to reflect back on my time at The University of Melbourne. But believe me, it hasn’t been a smooth ride. It’s actually kind of been a hot mess.


However, with every moment of not knowing what the hell is going on, I’ve actually come to learn a lot about how UniMelb works. I guess wisdom does come with experience. And now I’m sharing all my wisdom with all of you young’uns. Here are some of the important lessons I’ve learnt from my time as a student at The University of Melbourne.



Your Arts Foundation subject only counts for ONE of your majors


Arts students are very familiar with Arts Foundation subjects; we all have to complete one as a compulsory unit in our degree. But from multiple conversations with other Arts students doing a double major, everyone has made the same mistake in thinking that the Arts Foundation subject counts for both majors.


For example, I’m double majoring in Media & Communications and Screen & Cultural Studies. Back in first year, my sweet naive self did Representation as my Arts Foundation subject, alongside Media and Society, and Media, Identity and Everyday Life as Level 1 subjects for my two majors. However, for each major in an Arts degree, you are required to do two Level 1 subjects (followed by three Level 2 and three Level 3 subjects). This meant that I hadn’t completed enough Level 1 subjects for one of my majors. Because of this, I had to do Introduction to Screen Studies earlier this year in order to complete my Screen & Cultural Studies major.


Yet, I didn’t actually find this out until the end of my first year. Why? Because no one at UniMelb tells you anything. So please learn from my mistakes and make sure you do two Level 1 subjects for each major you’re doing.


For more information on course structure for your Bachelor of Arts, read here:



The Diploma in Languages has been a nightmare


I know we’re supposed to live life without regret, but from the amount of drama I’ve had with my Diploma in Languages, I think my deep regret in deciding to do German at UniMelb is justified. From multiple nervous breakdowns, to failing assignments, to being threatened with a $258 reinstatement fee, I’ve been through it all.


Because I’m doing two majors, the Diploma in Languages was the only option for me to be able to continue studying German at university level after high school. But if I could give anyone advice, I would say that you should weigh up your pros and cons before enrolling in a language at UniMelb:




Hold on to your receipts


I alluded to this earlier on, but this past semester has been a horror story with my enrolment in the Diploma in Languages. Long story short, my enrolment was terminated after I apparently didn’t enrol in a subject or apply for a leave of absence (WHICH I DID AND THEY NEVER RECEIVED?!?!?!?!!!?!?!?) and was slapped with a $258 reinstatement fee.


After many passive aggressive emails, several visits to Stop 1, and plenty of contradictory advice given to me by advisors there, I was eventually let off the hook when I sent through a series of Facebook message screenshots of me discussing the leave of absence online form with my friend. Thankfully, this was enough evidence for Enrolments to waiver the fees because I had shown a reasonable attempt to apply for the leave of absence.


So the lesson I learnt from this experience was to hold on to everything you send and that is sent to you, as well as getting all the advice given to you in your Stop 1 visits in writing. But most of all, double check and confirm everything just to be safe; make sure you receive an email confirmation about everything!



Buying subject readers won’t motivate you to do your readings


Every semester, I tell myself that I will do the weekly set readings. And I usually do. At least for the first few weeks. But as the assignments and mental breakdowns start rolling in, I’ll lose my start-of-semester mojo. When I first started my degree, I convinced that buying a $40 subject readers was somehow going to do my readings so that I wasn’t wasting money. And boy was I wrong.


Unless your subject co-ordinator is the spawn of Satan and doesn’t offer readings online, there really isn’t a reason you should buy a subject reader.



Membership at the Co-op is not worth it


Speaking of bad financial investments… You should all be very familiar with the Co-op. They’ve pretty much got the monopoly on textbooks and subject readers at UniMelb, and prey on the naivety of JAFFYs to rake in their profits.


The most blatant example of this exploitative enterprise is their membership program. For $25, a Co-op membership card will allow you to pay membership prices for their products. Seems like a good deal right? Probably not if you’re an Arts student though. At most, you’ll probably save like $3 for each reader.


However, since most subjects offer readings online (and the fact that subject readers are a big scam), you probably won’t get any bang for your buck with your membership. I made the mistake of falling into this trap, and have used my card a total of 3 times and have probably saved about $8.   



Be prudent about what subjects you do


When I first started my degree, I would pick subjects that sounded fun or had an interesting description in its Handbook. But as the years have gone by, I’ve become much more picky about which subjects I enroll in. In fact, this is a checklist of factors I take into account when I’m choosing my subjects each semester:





Chances are, you're probably going to have some of your own admin drama during your time at The University of Melbourne. And you know what? That's okay! With each mistake you make along your UniMelb journey, you'll learn and become all the more wiser for the next inevitable mishap. And with that knowledge, you can impart your wisdom onto future generations of JAFFYs at UniMelb. 


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