From a gap year to the Bachelor of Design

Claire Woodward took a year off after high school and travelled to Canada before deciding to pursue the Bachelor of Design at The University of Melbourne. She recently shared her first year experience with us.

What was your transition like from a gap year to university?

Taking a gap year helped immensely with my transition to university. I lived in Canada for 8 months working as an outdoor education leader. During this time, I became more self-confident, mature, developed greater independence and got better at meeting new people.

This meant that I wasn’t as overwhelmed when I started at university and found it easier to meet knew people. But I think this is one of the biggest challenges for new students.

I would recommend putting yourself out there in the first month or so of university. Make the most of O-week, go on a camp, even if it isn’t with your faculty or if you don’t know anyone. That is how I made my closest friendship group, and having them all around uni has helped the transition a lot.

Make the most of your tutorials as they are much smaller, so you have the opportunity to meet people doing your course and talk through different challenging concepts. I love how design subjects are taught in a studio environment, making it easier to get close with fellow students as you spend a lot of time together in a casual classroom setting.

What was the highlight of your first year at university?

My highlight was definitely the friends I made. I have met so many new people from a range of different courses and backgrounds and they are now my closest friends. On top of this I have thoroughly enjoyed all my subjects. After taking some time off after high school I was really ready to begin studying again and found a course that is exactly what I wanted. Finally, of course just being apart of the university culture and social life.

What major(s) did you choose?

I am studying a double major in Architecture and Construction Management. These were always the majors I intended on studying when I applied for a Bachelor of Design.

What was your favourite first year, Bachelor of Design subject and why?

My favourite subject for first year was Principles of Building, a core subject for the construction major. While it was one of my more difficult subjects it was taught so well, the assignments were engaging, and I could see the practical application of everything we learnt. It also was a great contrast to some of my more artistic studio subjects.

What are some of the skills you have learnt while studying the Bachelor of Design?

I have refined my drawing and presentation skills, I have learnt how to use many new digital programs and I have become more confident giving oral presentations. More generally, I have had practise producing work to a higher standard, managing my time better during the semester and how to seek help from tutors and lecturers when needed.

Why did you choose to study the Bachelor of Design?

Initially it was overwhelming deciding which university to go to and which course to study. But the Bachelor of Design brought together all of the features I was looking for in a course. I was able to do a double major without adding any time onto my degree, I could do an exchange (which most universities don’t offer for architecture) and get a degree at a highly accredited university.

What would be your dream project in your future career?

My dream job is humanitarian architecture as I would like to work with low socio-economic communities to develop community spaces and houses to improve wellbeing. I’d like to work with a range of people where they get control over the designs and building process so that they have had full involvement in the creation of the space.

What advice would you give to students deciding where to study?

So many people have been through what I went through: the confusion of ‘what do I do with my life now I’ve finished high school’? All the information I found about the Bachelor of Design came from having conversations with the people around me: friends, family and previous students.

Asking the experts at the university and past students was helpful as they have the most extensive knowledge of the course and the student experience. Another important thing to consider is the general vibe you have coming onto campus. You want to go somewhere that makes you feel excited to come in and study.

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