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Off on a new adventure

17 Feb 2020

It is the time of year when small children have shiny new shoes, when hats are just a tad too big for the heads they cover, when backpacks seem bigger than the bodies which carry them, and when there are nerves about school – from either child or parent or both.

I almost want to weep for those long-gone years when my children were the little ones in those big hats.

And while starting university doesn’t require the big hat and the shiny shoes, it can be just as nerve-racking for both the student and the parent, just because it is something new. Your little child is now an adult and heading out into the world on their own, and though you don’t hold their hand at the school gate any more, you can still help them along on their journey.

Attend Orientation

I encouraged all my children to attend Orientation. They made friends, found out about the different clubs and activities on campus, essentially, they had fun! Orientation made them more comfortable to start uni and helped them meet people they could catch up with for a coffee from the very first week of the semester.

Make a plan

My children used the USC diary to keep track of their study schedule and they also used a big calendar to mark all of the important dates, lectures, assessment, prac sessions, family time, and fun time. I think exercise is so important for well-being and we are a cricket-netball-AFL-walk the dog-swimming kind of family, so we make sure there is room on the calendar for that. One of my children continued with this idea when they moved out in their final year of study, and with three students in the house, and all their lectures, tutorials and assessment colour coded, the calendar was fairly impressive.

Attend info sessions

I also encouraged (insert nag here) all my children to complete some of the academic and study support resources which were on offer, either on-line or on-campus. These sessions cover topics like assignment writing and library researching, and they can be a great help, especially when you first start at university.

The uni wants to help your student

USC has fabulous lecturers and tutors who all want students to succeed. I encouraged my children to attend their lectures and tutorials, to get to know their teachers and to visit Student Central. Seeing a Learning Adviser can help them develop good study skills right from the start.

Feed them. Water them. Love them.

One of the most important ways I tried to help my children with university, was to feed them, water them, and be there to listen. It sounds basic, but schedules, deadlines, life being hectic, can all mean a change in eating times, so try to make sure your student fits in a good solid meal. And don’t skimp on the milkshakes… milkshakes, and the chatter which goes with them, matter.

So, if you see me sharing a strawberry milkshake with my son, we are celebrating an assignment submitted, an exam completed or a long day finished, and I am helping him along the way on his university journey.

About Dr Janet Lee

Dr Janet Lee received her Doctorate of Creative Arts from USC. She is also mum to four children who have all completed (or are completing) their undergraduate degrees at USC. Janet lives on the Sunshine Coast with two dogs, some very spoilt chickens and her wonderful, noisy family. Janet is a regular contributor to USC's Parent Lounge.

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