When Megan Ting began her Bachelor of Forensic Science degree at UTS last year, she had one week on campus before COVID changed everything. In the space of a day, everything moved online. “I’m very grateful to have made a few friends in class during that first week,” she says. “I was glad I could message them and ask for help. We helped each other out.”
Adapting to change
Initially, it took some time and effort to adjust to a new way of learning, but Megan, who grew up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, is used to adapting to change. Her journey to university took a series of surprising turns. She certainly didn’t see a Science degree in her future back then. Megan says, “I’ve changed a lot since my HSC days. Back then I wanted to do design, so all my subjects related to that. My only science subject in Year 12 was Biology.”
She remembers her HSC experience being quite stressful, and she was disappointed in her ATAR. “Afterwards, I felt burnt out. I realised how much pressure there would be in the design world. It’s so competitive, and I thought maybe it wasn’t for me. That’s when I started to think about something like nursing,” she says. Megan took a nine-month gap period before starting a Diploma of Science at UTS College, with a view to studying Nursing at UTS. During that time, she also completed a Certificate III in Health Service Assistance, just to get a feel for the profession.
Support and encouragement
Without a solid background in Science subjects, she was quite nervous about launching into her Diploma program. “Picking up a Science course was a huge challenge. I had so much trouble with Chemistry in the first semester. It didn’t make sense to me. Physics was my other challenging subject. But the teachers would take time out of their day to help me. They’d sit down and explain it in different ways until I understood. They were so encouraging.”
It was even more encouraging for Megan when she started achieving great results for the subjects she’d worked so hard on. She says, “That’s when I realised I could pursue a science career.”
Finding a new direction
After completing her diploma, Megan decided to switch again to a new direction. After a lot of thought, she transferred from Nursing to Forensic Science. “I always liked watching crime investigation shows and reading crime books and I thought I’d give it a go. My career goal is to work in the police force in forensics. My dream job would be going into a crime scene and taking photos of evidence and investigating everything,” she says.
Now on her way to a career that excites her, Megan is grateful for the practical study skills that were part of her learning at UTS College. She says, “I write a lot of notes. That’s something I learnt at the College. I used lots of sticky notes and mind maps. And I remember for our science subjects we would write out summaries of what we’d learnt. That’s so helpful because you’re writing everything down in your own words. It’s a way to test yourself.”
Learning to thrive online
Those independent study skills also made a difference when Megan had to adapt so quickly to learning online during the pandemic. “Having good study skills makes learning online easier,” she says. “I have my sticky notes, and I always write down the days I have class. I make a note of what time, whether they’re on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. I stick all that on the edge of my desktop. It means I can see what’s going on at a glance. I like having a physical diary as well. Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned but I like to be able to look at it and see what tasks are coming up. I think it really helps to have everything in front of you physically. It’s too confusing to try to map it all out in your head.”
Megan also recommends putting some thought into creating the right study environment. “My desk was in my bedroom, and that made it hard for me to focus,” she says. “With my bed right behind me, I kept thinking how nice it would be to take a nap. Now I’ve made a little ‘picnic area’ in my living room. There’s a rug and a little picnic table. I like to set myself up there. There’s a kettle, so I have water, and I like to study and do classes there.”
Having come such a long way since her HSC experience, Megan says it’s important not to give up. “Your ATAR doesn’t define you are,” she says. “You might not have your best run that year, but that’s okay. There are so many ways of getting into uni. Just don’t give up hope. Find what you really want to do. Whether your passion is science, engineering, or IT or anything else. There are many ways to get there.”