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Blog – 5 Considerations During Your University Journey: From Choosing the Right College to Experiencing College Life

By Tori Thompson

The transition from high school to university is one of the most exciting adventures you will embark on and there is often a wide range of things that need to be considered along the way! Below we list some of these:

Follow Your Passion

Naturally, the first thing to look at when making this transition is determining what you’re passionate about. Hopefully this passion will then tie into a relevant university course, allowing you to learn useful and industry specific information, while studying something you love. However, if a student decides to change their course, then this is also relatively easy depending on the new course that is being transitioned into, as well as the relevant entry requirements. This ensures you can find your true passion and explore new avenues of study without being locked into your degree or by the bureaucracy of the university. University provides the unique opportunity for individuals to experience and try new things, but it is recommended to try and lock in a course that you really care about early to avoid constant changes and a potentially high university debt.

Choosing a Residential College

After selecting your course, the next step is choosing accommodation. While many students have the benefit of being able to live at home while attending university, for some students this isn’t the case. In these circumstances, choosing a college (a residential college) is a popular alternative. Most universities have residential colleges specifically linked to their campuses, whereas some are more than happy to accommodate students from a range of universities. Be sure to research this beforehand to make sure you’re choosing the right college for you. Online research can only take you so far and it’s important to try to experience the residential colleges in person before making a decision. One way of achieving this is to attend tours and open days to view the accommodation and facilities on offer. Alternatively, look to chat with a previous resident, whether it be a family friend or even someone available to chat on open days. August is usually the best month to check out Melbourne residential colleges, as most colleges are open and running tours all day. But be sure to check individual dates for your residential college of interest. With University College, I was lucky enough to have a friend in the year above me, so I came and visited her on just a regular day and was won over by an afternoon chat in the dining hall. At the time, I remember thinking it was so cool that no matter who came in for a snack, everyone sat down and chatted together.

Attending O-Week

Chooty - Girl's Footy
Chooty – Chicks Footy

The next step on a student’s university journey is to look at what they want to get out of their college life in terms of personal growth and development. My first recommendation for any new student is to try and put themselves out there and meet as many people as you can. Especially during O-Week (orientation week), which helps new students to experience all that their university and residential colleges have to offer, with a host of stalls on display, student groups to meet and activities to be part of. It’s important to go outside your comfort zone during this week to maximise your opportunities to not only meet new and wonderful people, but also start to figure out where you fit in within your university and college life. This is crucial, as many of the relationships and friendships students forge during this time will more than likely be the support network they rely on further down the track. College is a real melting pot of people from all over, so while you may have friends from your hometown, branching out is one of the best things you can do!

Finding Out About Student Activities

Finding out about student activities and joining in means making new friends and experiencing something new, for instance, joining an acting club or trying a new sport such as netball. If you hail from a city (like I did) where touch football is a thing, but all of a sudden Melbourne throws this weird idea of tackling at you, give it a go. Cricket? Set design? Debating? Try your luck at something, it may not end up being something you gain a passion for, but at the very least you’ll make some new friends. In some cases, it could even unlock a new hidden talent you never knew you had. Either way it is a win-win scenario. So be sure to try something new. Who knows what you’ll experience.

Making Use of Resources Available

While residential colleges and universities offer a host of facilities such as gyms, cafes, lounges etc, don’t forget the fact that these are still academic institutions (especially in relation to college accommodation). At college, students have a host of valuable assets at their disposal. For example, residential colleges provide tutors known as resident tutors or RTs. The academic demands of high school compared to university can be quite confronting, but RT’s can help students to navigate the scary waters of university including proper referencing, developing a thesis or improving time management. Nothing saved me more in SWOTVAC than a colour-coordinated study plan, put together with the help of one of our resident tutors. Moreover, when you hit second year, try and attend events like the Leadership Dinner or Pathways Dinner; they’re purposely designed so that you’re able to complement your studies with networking skills. On top of this, at residential college campuses students will meet individuals who are studying in their second or even third year who can also be invaluable in terms of providing advice in relation to university studies and residential college life.

Remember, nobody immediately adapts to university and college straight out of high school. However, it is important as a student to take a leap of faith and try to make the most out of all the experiences available. I moved to Melbourne on a whim; so I understand the importance of exploring what your university and residential college has to offer. But one thing I am certain of, you’re bound to enjoy it!