Be a uni student for a semester...while you're still at school

Imagine if you could balance the best of both worlds: studying at high school, while getting a taste of university life at the same time. Bond University offers this opportunity to ambitious Year 11 and 12 students from the Gold Coast, Brisbane or northern NSW. The 'Student for a Semester' (SFAS) program enables students to kick-start their university degree by studying university subjects while still at high school.

At first, university will seem like another world. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and into unfamiliar terrain can be a bit daunting for some. The idea of throwing off that uniform for a few hours, sipping cafe lattes in class and chatting to university lecturers on a first-name basis sounds too good to be true. Yet, getting to ‘try before you buy’ (your education, that is) turns out to be a really good thing.

The SFAS program prepares you for life post-high school. You get to be a student for 3-4 hours per week (one lecture and one tutorial), complete assessments and sit real university exams. However, it’s also fun and games, including meeting like-minded students, participating in campus life activities and engaging in faculty-run events.

The SFAS program costs $238 to complete, which is an over $3000 reduction from the original cost of the university subject. Of particular significance is the fact that the subjects are credited towards an actual university degree. This means that if you pursue further study at Bond University, you can essentially cut back on doing two less subjects – before even starting out at university.

Year 11 student at Varsity College, Chris Luff, studied ‘Public Relations’ for a semester after hearing about SFAS from his guidance counsellor and the university website.

“I’ve always had an interest in business and thought Public Relations might fit into that. I wanted to find out if characters such as Eli Gold from The Good Wife were accurate and also to find out more about the profession.”

Much akin to hurdles of TV characters, SFAS students are not without their challenges. Most students agree that the extra workload and conflicting deadlines can be tough.

“Keeping up with the materials in lectures is the most challenging thing,” said Chris.

“We go through the amount of subject matter in one lesson at university that we do in about two weeks at school.”

However, if you’re a hard worker and have good organisational skills, the SFAS program is for you.

“For balancing uni and school life at the same time, set separate times for both courses and focus on what you’re doing,” said Chris.

“If you are working on a chemistry assignment, don’t get sidetracked and start writing up your uni essay. Try and stay focused and organised. I’ve found Google Calendar to be a massive help with organising my time effectively between courses.”

Chris’s favourite part of the SFAS program was the independent learning, getting a taste of university life and making new friends.

“I love it. I really enjoy it, and it’s sometimes hard to transition back to school...I have more freedom, but I don’t abuse it. I get stuff done. It’s more independent. Then, I go back to school and the teacher is telling you exactly what to do, every step of the way...I’ve found that SFAS has actually improved my learning style, the short time I’ve done it, and I use that independence back at school to get more done.”

Chris said he definitely saw himself studying at Bond University upon graduating high school. He said he would be interested in pursuing a career in Commerce, Law, or Public Relations management.

From ‘Public Speaking’ to ‘Understanding Buildings’, students have a wide range of subject selection of over 20 subjects on offer. Anyone considering the program should check out the full study list here.
 
Students are able to complete a maximum of two subjects via the SFAS program, once in year 11 and once in year 12. There are certain requirements which must be met to study the second time round, including receiving a 50% (pass) in their first university subject (or 65% for a Humanities and Social Sciences subject).

Speaking from personal experience, I participated in the SFAS program in both years 11 and 12, studying ‘Writing for News Media’ and ‘Introduction to International Relations’ respectively. The SFAS program was fantastic in helping me get a taste of what university life was all about and narrowing my undergraduate degree choices. It also confirmed that Bond University was right for me. To this day, I am still friends with students and lecturers I met a few years ago. I am also 100% driven and passionate about my degree.

Current Bond University student, Clare Todhunter, also did the SFAS in year 11 back in 2008. She was able to confirm her passion for Journalism through studying ‘Writing for News Media’.

“I was originally interested in studying at Bond because of the SFAS program, as they were the only university on the Gold Coast that offered the student experience from as young as grade 11,” she said.

“I admit that the high tuition fees for the full degree were at first a bit of a turn off, but Fee Help makes it easy for me to concentrate on my studies without having to worry about money.”

“When I am on campus, I am always motivated about my future and excited for my career. This has a lot to do with the supportive teaching staff, who are all still working in the journalism industry.

Clare said she noticed a lot of subtle differences between high school and university.

“For example, not putting your hand up to ask to visit the bathroom. You're granted a lot more freedom at uni and tutors will treat you as adults. Of course, this means you can't rely on others to chase you up for assessment tasks.”

Clare emphasised motivation as a key factor in finding the degree right for you.

“It sounds lame, but follow your heart. It's easier to do well in your studies if you're motivated for your career. Don't study a profession if you're only in it for the income,” she said.

“Also, don't stress too hard over your high school leaving results. At the end of the day, your OP is just a number and a number will not get in the way of your goals: not so long as you're determined. On that note, it really doesn't matter if you don't know what career you want to do by the time you finish school. You can always switch degrees or return to your studies to do something else later.”

“Until you know, why not go do something fun for a while? I have a lot of friends who travelled the world for a year or two and returned refreshed and ready to prepare for their careers.”

“All up, I recommend the Student for a Semester program to anyone who knows what they want to study or looking at doing their degree at Bond. I saved thousands of dollars in tuition fees and was able to confirm what I wanted to study.”

If you would like to apply for the program, complete the Online Application Form here. You will also need to attach your academic transcript and references. Successful applicants will receive their Letter of Offer via email.

If you have any questions about the SFAS program, feel free to contact the Excellence Program Coordinator, Ms Kristy Crockett, on 07 595 1067 or via email at sfs@bond.edu.au.