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Do I do study creative (design) or something safe (psychology)?

Welcome to another Round Table Discussion

Dear The Footnotes,

Art has always been my favourite subject at school and I really want to continue with it next year. But my parents worry that I won’t be able to make a career from a degree in Fine Arts. I was also considering psychology. Do you have any insight into either course or advice about which to do?


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For this round table discussion we called in:

  • A Flexible Double Degree student (who does design AND pyschology)
  • A Fine Arts student
  • A Psychology student

A Flexible Double Degree student (FDD): That story is so familiar to me! I was always interested in pursing design and I’ve always loved art and like you, wanted to do a creative degree.

But I was also really interested in psychology. I was fascinated to know how people’s ‘minds work’ and to understand all of the theory and science behind human behaviour.

I was at a crossroads in picking which degree to do, but then I found out that you could do a flexible double degree through ANU. I had never heard of it before. It was the main reason that I chose ANU, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

I am enrolled in a Bachelor of Design and a Bachelor of Psychology as a double degree. The whole thing will take me four years – and I’ll have two degrees at the end.

The Footnotes: What’s it like studying two really different degrees at the same time?

FDD: I love it. It gives me a chance to use different parts of my brain. One day I am working on furniture design, the next I am in a lecture learning about science.

The Footnotes: How is it possible to finish two degrees in four years when each usually takes three years (because that would usually be six)?

FDD: They remove all of the ‘free electives’ so you only do the compulsory parts of the degree. You walk out with the same degree that someone would spend three years doing.

The Footnotes: What are examples of other combinations?

FDD: There are heaps.

Some of my friends are doing: Criminology and Law, Psychology and Criminology, Engineering and Design, Law and a language… there is so many options.

A Fine Arts Student: I wish that I had of known about something like this. I am in my third year of study at a private art college in Sydney, which I love, but I am also starting to get worried about what kind of job I can get at the end.

I had the same worries as Sarah when I started. I loved art in high school and really wanted to pursue my painting, but was worried about how I’d make a life of it. My parents felt that I should do something more safe and continue painting as a hobby.

My story… I enrolled in a Bachelor of Education (to be a primary school teacher) in my first year out of school but found that without timetabled periods that I could allocate to art,  I wasn’t doing any! I ended up dropping out after one semester and then enrolling in Fine Arts.

If I had of had the option to a double degree like that, I’d have jumped at the opportunity!

My other advice for Sarah is to make sure that she looks into the facilities at the school, university or college she wants to attend. Make sure you make the time to visit on the open day because facilities can really be make or break!

The Footnotes: What do you think you’ll do after you graduate? 

A Fine Arts Student: I have started to sell some of my work and I am building up relationships with some gallery owners and exhibitioners. It’s a really hard industry to crack, but I am so passionate about it and will keep chipping away!

See Also

I intern in a creative advertising agency part time. I work under the Art Director, who manages big advertising campaigns. Think… Vegemite, Cadbury… those kinds of brands.

I love it there, so hopefully I’ll land a graduate job when I finish.

The Footnotes: Next question is for the Psychology student, what should a high school student considering psychology be ready for?

 A Psychology student: I guess firstly, remember that it’s a six to seven year path to become a practicing psychologist!

But what to expect? … well the workload and class structure is quite like high school. There is always lots of reading, and you always have to do it – and it’s all examinable. Be ready for lots of writing! I think I’ve only had 3 groups projects in the last 5 years, everything else is essays, reports and exams.

The first three years are quite dry at times, don’t get me wrong I love my psychology degree but it takes motivation to keep up with the heavy stats and theory you need to study.

Also, you need first class honours and work experience to even get an interview for postgraduate psychology. Even once you get into postgraduate psych it’s still a lot of work with placement, thesis and coursework.

Our Footnotes:

* If you are interested in doing a Double Degree where can you blend various degrees that usually aren’t available to overlap,  ANU offers them!

Build the various degree options here. 

We had a look on their site and here’s what you need to know: 

  • It takes less time than studying two undergraduate degrees separately
  • You will have the same full-time workload as a student studying a single undergraduate degree.
  • There are  750 possible degree combinations. 

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