That first breath of autumn last week might just have been mistaken for the collective sigh of relief from parents when university lectures started!
The long summer break can eventually wear on us, especially when summer jobs dry up, even with the lure of endless surf, sun and sand. I know my students are more than a bit relieved the semester is now underway. Getting their parking concession sorted, Go Cards and student IDs, Centrelink paperwork and textbooks have been a consuming business in my household.
Week one and with no time to waste, my son found there was no slow build-up and his first assessment was due in by Friday. Sure it was a short test online and it jolted him back into study mode really fast. Most faculties have a few weeks of lectures first before assessment begins about Week 4. My daughter has switched to USC from another university and is enjoying the easy accessibility, smaller classes and friendly atmosphere. Stay posted for the ups and downs!
Money is a huge concern for students with rising HECS debts and expensive living costs. Being able to live at home is a huge help but many students can't, so what sort of financial assistance is there? In a nutshell, Centrelink, scholarships and employment.
If your student has applied for Youth Allowance/Rent Assistance/AusStudy for the first time, there may be lengthy delays with some students not getting their payment until after Easter. Last year my students waited four months. Making sure the paperwork is fully completed, including income data, certainly speeds up the process. Once it is in gear, regular reporting and keeping Centrelink updated with changes is the key to continuing success. We might love to hate Centrelink's endless administration but it is certainly a great safety net.
Scholarships and employment will come up in my next blog - so until then, enjoy the ride with your student. Don't be a stranger in their world. Make a coffee date on campus, keep in touch with social media, texting and old fashioned emails. Don't assume long silences mean they are coping or having a ball - your support is as important now as it ever was.
Denise French is a parent of four (two graduates and two current students), her children have studied at both USC and other universities. Denise is also about to graduate from USC with a Masters in Communication.