Universities are all too aware of the difficulties faced by many students as they adjust to life in a tertiary institution. Many students, even those who have sailed through secondary school, struggle with the transition from school to a larger tertiary environment. So what are universities doing about this?
Extensive support services are available for students at all universities. Universities spend millions of dollars to provide counselling, personal and academic support and advice to help students settle into tertiary study, be successful, happy and make friends.
Sometimes, the sad fact remains that despite a lot of money spent promoting this support to students, many students still fail to access it when most needed. Some are even unaware that help is available. Parents need to research the universities their teenagers are about to commence study in and be aware of all of the support services available. Bringing this up casually in a conversation can be extremely helpful…
‘I was looking at the website of university X to learn more about where you are going to study. It’s fantastic. I was amazed to see that students can get assistance with work, counselling on practically everything, advice on getting part-time jobs and even leadership training. And almost all of it is free! It looks great.’
A conversation like this can help your teenagers become more aware of all of the support available, but more importantly, also normalise asking for assistance.
Here are just four universities to look at so that you can see the types of support services available. Whether your teenagers are interested or not in these universities, it’s great for parents to learn how to navigate tertiary websites, identify what support is on offer and become more familiar with university terminology.
RMIT University, Victoria
This is a fantastic example of the effort universities make to support students. Spend five minutes on this website and you will discover that students are not alone at RMIT. There is enormous support available. ‘Make the most of RMIT with our support services. Achieve your study goals, stay happy and healthy, and know there is support and assistance when you need it.’
Under the heading ‘Community’ click onto ‘Get involved’ (https://www.rmit.edu.au/students/new-student-guide/get-involved) This will show you all of the exciting clubs and activities that are open to RMIT students to help them make friends and feel connected
James Cook University, Queensland
This university also offers students enormous support for students. For example, click onto ‘Learning Centre’ to find the following…
‘If you need help with study skills or academic support during your studies. The Learning Centre can provide you with assistance. Language and learning services are available to all JCU students and include workshops to help students with academic reading, writing, speaking, presentations, referencing, English grammar and note-taking. They also offer courses and programs to assist in the transition to tertiary study, individual and group support for students from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds (NESB) as well as online learning skills resources and editing skills support.’
The University of Sydney, NSW
Under ‘Campus life’ click onto ‘Health, wellbeing and success’ to find the impressive support put in place for students. https://sydney.edu.au/campus-life/health-wellbeing-success.html ‘Studying can be challenging, so it’s important to us that you have access to great help, advice and care, whether it’s a physiotherapist or trained counsellor.’
Now spend some time looking at ‘Clubs and societies’. ‘Run by students for students with the support of the University of Sydney Union, there’s bound to be one (or many) of our clubs that interests you. And if there isn’t, start your own!
Joining a university club is a great way to exercise your brain and body, learn new things, practise your leadership skills, and make friends who share your interests.’
University of Tasmania
In addition to spending time on the homepage, make sure you check the following to see the great care shown to students at UTAS.
Student support and Resources http://www.utas.edu.au/students/learning
Student Life http://www.utas.edu.au/students/life
No university wants to have unhappy students dropping out! Every university works hard to make students feel welcome, looked after and more than a number on a student card.
Free and confidential
Support is free and it will remain confidential. Information will not be shared with parents and young people need to know this. A university will not contact parents or give out information if parents call. Students are seen as young adults and university staff, particularly support staff, want to work with students to empower them to become more confident and self-motivating.
Strength, not weakness
Teenagers need to know that asking for help is the mature and sensible thing to do. Asking for help shows strength of character, not weakness. Students who believe this are far less vulnerable to feeling lost in the tertiary landscape than those who feel ashamed to ask for help when they need it.