We chatted to a current speech pathology student about her course,
What is speech pathology?
Speech pathology is a communication profession. There are 5 areas of practice – language, speech (which is what everyone would associate speech pathologists with), fluency (which involves stuttering), voice and swallowing.
How did you figure out that’s what you wanted to do?
I didn’t actually know what speech pathology was before I started it. I never wanted to work in an office and I wanted to help people. That was my main thing. I talked to my parents about it and I thought “oh maybe I’ll become a teacher” and then I thought “I really like science” and that’s what lead me to speech pathology because it’s kind of a mix between those two.
Why did you choose Sydney University?
In terms of my course, my neighbour had done speech pathology at Sydney Uni and it sounded like a good course because you got ‘qualified’. Where as at other universities you have to do masters and all that stuff [to get qualified].
The best part about my degree was being given the chance to make a small difference in people’s lives. The worst part was feeling the pressure to do that, to make that difference, because I was so young. I also think they could have changed the order [of the course] a little bit. Mostly just in terms of when you do your placement and what you are learning theoretically during that time. But overall I loved it.
What was the dropout rate like?
Our dropout rate was pretty big in the second year because that’s when all your placement starts. You really have to love this degree to do it, it’s so specific. It gets serious very quickly so I think what happens is people realise they’re not interested in the science part of it (anatomy, neuroscience, etc) and they leave.
Was the course what you expected?
As a 17 year old I don’t think you will ever really know what to expect unless you thoroughly research the course before you do it. But I definitely didn’t expect it to be so science based. The first two years are quite general and you’re guided through. The biggest shock for me was the third and fourth years because I didn’t realise how practical it was going to be. We did about nine placements throughout my degree.
Did you enjoy your placements?
I feel so lucky to know what to expect going into the workforce, thanks to my placements. It also teaches you how to be a perfect communicator, which is great. I had such a good experience but I think it’s your perspective, you have to take it as a challenge and try and make it work.
What are your footnotes?
I wish I knew before I started that I would have to take university really seriously. I saw some of my friends missing tutorials and having long lunches and because you’re seeing clients from early on you can’t have that. You need to be prepared to take on the challenge and really just embrace that responsibility.