By Micol Carmignani
The choice between living in a share house or a residential college is one many uni students find themselves having to make. To help decide which is the best fit for you, this blog will discuss the differences between the two options in four key areas: day-to-day tasks, support networks, extracurricular experiences, and university studies.
Basic daily tasks, such as cooking and laundry, are a responsibility which students living at home usually do not carry by themselves but rather divide with their family. In a share house, these become the responsibility of solely the student (and potentially their flatmates with enough coordination). A university College aims to give you that same sense of independence, but with a helping hand. A room cleaning service is provided fortnightly, but laundry and any additional domestic chores can be done independently whenever you wish, using the facilities provided. All student meals are also prepared for you, three times a day. It might not seem like a lot, but prepping for meals, buying supplies and cooking can take up a lot of time in your day – so to not have to think about this can be a real lifesaver!
Uni Support Networks
Many students who move away from their hometown to attend university are also leaving behind their support network of childhood friends, teachers, family, and other important figures. However, in this transition period from teenager to young adult, it is incredibly important to have a support system. Share houses is the default student accommodation that students choose to grow close to the group of friends. As David Crane, the producer of Friends (the TV show) said, it is “that time in your life when your friends are your family.” But likewise, college also places a strong emphasis on friendship by allowing students to meet and build those connections first – before you move in together. You will find after a year or two at a university college, you are keen to live in a share house with some of the friends you have made, which is a lot less scary than moving in with strangers. Colleges also provide additional support during times when you need it. There is a Wellbeing team to assist with any mental or health concerns, youth workers to provide first aid support and security, and resident tutors for academic advice.
The benefits of partaking in activities outside of study are well researched and established for full time students – from the physical and mental wellbeing associated with sports and music, through to the advantages of having a leadership position on your CV. College provides opportunities to get involved in these areas, presenting one major difference from a share house. Whereas the latter option is just housing, living at a college means that extracurricular experiences are more accessible. The most notable experiences being employment/pathways programs and social events.
University studies are the central component of a full-time student’s life. Given this, a college’s provision of experiences also extends to academic support. Such support can be particularly valuable to first and second-year university students as they strive not only to make the transition between teenage and adulthood but also the academic leap between high school and tertiary education. Weekly student tutorials provide students with guidance from knowledgeable resident tutors (and their peers), helping them gain a greater understanding of their university coursework. In some cases, one on one consultations may be arranged for a student who is struggling academically or needs additional support for a particular assignment. There are also opportunities for mentoring and network building with alumni and friends of the college.
All in all, residential colleges, such as University College, are a useful steppingstone for students. They function to support this transitional period of life and ease you into the complete independence of a share house; preparing you to ultimately move in with your UC peers once you feel a bit more confident to do so.