Cassie Carling’s steady progress towards her psychology qualification since leaving her Melbourne high school in 2014 is proof that an ATAR alone doesn’t determine your future.
Cassie did her tertiary studies ‘homework’ by attending college open days. After a visit to the Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP) Melbourne campus and a follow-up phone chat with a course adviser, she discovered the best pathway to her chosen career.
She enrolled in the Diploma of Counselling as a school-leaver with the aim of using eight of its units as credits to the Bachelor of Psychological Science. Cassie hit that study goal and has entered the undergraduate course as a second-year student.
“My career plans are to become a qualified psychologist, branching out into children's psychology and specialising in trauma and domestic violence,” she said.
“My passion for psychology started in Year 9 when my school did an Introduction to Psychology elective. I found it fascinating, with all the different concepts and ideas about how the brain functions. I decided to continue to study psychology all the way to my VCE.”
Culture and content counts
Exploring psychology degrees back in 2014 had put both entry criteria and campus culture into perspective for Cassie, who decided then that a large university was not right for her.
“I found ACAP and when I met some of the lecturers and students I knew it was going to be the best fit for me, due to the smaller classes and small tutorial classes, which meant students were able to ask more questions than at uni,” she said.
“I looked at other unis but none of them suited me or my learning style. And because I already knew my ATAR wasn't enough to get into the Bachelor course, I called ACAP. The course adviser said to do the Counselling diploma, then transfer into the Bachelor of Psychological Science, which actually ended up being the best advice for me.”
Switching from her VCE to diploma study required some habit changes for Cassie, which altered again after a year to meet undergraduate course expectations.
“Tertiary study is more flexible and we get to know what all the assessments are before the trimester starts,” she said.
“The Diploma was more group orientated whereas the Bachelor is a more independent and scientific style of learning. But both ways encourage students to bring their ideas forward and contribute to the discussion in the room,” she said.
The collaborative learning style at ACAP continues to meet Cassie’s early expectations of the college. Her close contact with teachers and recent graduates active in the profession has brought welcome insights into her career choices, too.
“I can ask lecturers more questions, or I can send an email and know I will get a response quickly. And it’s more personal than studying in a lecture hall at the big universities with hundreds of other students,” said Cassie.
“Some of the highlights have been joining some of the extracurricular activities, such as the alumni program, and being able to get advice from others who work in the industry. I have also met some fantastic and most helpful people and I have made good friends during my studies at ACAP.”
Pathways to higher education
ACAP’s three diplomas provide work-ready skills training to graduates and also act as pathway courses to higher education in Psychology, Counselling and Social Work. Take a closer look at the available programs and options here.
Cassie was interviewed in February 2017