Three years ago, Jacob Morris thought his future was set.
He was two years into a six-year commitment with the Australian Defence Force, halfway through completing a traineeship as an aircraft technician.
“I’d made up my mind halfway through Year 11 that I didn’t want to keep studying so as soon as I finished Year 12, I joined the Navy,” he says.
“I did really enjoy it, but I had a moment after the first year when I realised, I didn’t really want to do this for another five years and only end up with a Certificate IV.
Reevaluating career goals
“I didn’t want to do all that work for a job that I didn’t want to do, and realised now was the best time to go and study, and make the change.”
Growing up in Wollongong, Jacob was familiar with the University of Wollongong, but he also knew he probably wasn’t ready to go straight into a degree.
He made a few phone calls and was directed to the UOW College where he found out about the alternative pathways to gaining entry to an undergraduate course.
“I wanted to try to get into an exercise science degree and the College told me the Diploma of Medical and Health Science would be the ideal way to do that,” he said.
“After completing it, I would be able to enrol into the Bachelor of Exercise Science and go straight into second year.
“I was quite interested in physical sport and activity and the more I was thinking about what I may want to do for a career I thought exercise science was the way to go.”
A new direction in education
Getting back into studying, he admits, was a challenge, but the staff at the College and the way the courses are structured helped him immensely.
“The College has helped me learn how university operates,” he said.
“No one is going to hold your hand at university, you have to do it yourself and it is that mentality the College helped me build in myself.”
After being out of formal education for several years, Jacob said one of the most beneficial things he found at UOW College was the Peer Assisted Learning sessions.
PAL sessions are led by senior students who have excelled at the subject in the past with a focus on integrating the course content with academic reasoning and study skills.
“The PAL sessions helped a lot,” he says.
“The tutors knew all the tips and tricks and were there to help us.
“Everything we learned in these sessions can translate over to any degree you may want to continue on with.”
He said after two years in the Navy, he also liked the hands-on learning approach the College used as it made his transition to tertiary education a lot smoother.
Embracing a future in technology
“It was a coin toss between computer science and exercise science when I first started my tertiary education journey.
Using the skills he gained at the College, he started a Bachelor of Computer Science at the University of Wollongong in 2023.
“I’d love to work in artificial intelligence or cyber security somewhere overseas or work remotely from Australia.
“I can see that the skills I have learned at UOW College are transferable to any course of study at university.
“Everyone has their own pace and skills, but having that College experience, I now know what to expect in the first year of university and how everything works.
“Three years ago, I didn’t think I would be getting ready to start a degree.
“A lot has happened, and a lot has changed, and I don’t regret anything. I’ve come to accept that I can try as many different things as I can in my learning journey.”
Learn more about pathways programs available at UOW College.
Diploma of Medical and Health Sciences
Bachelor of Computer Science