Helping your child thrive, not just survive their first semester - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Parent Lounge Update

Helping your child thrive, not just survive their first semester

5 Feb 2019

The first few weeks of the uni semester can often bring a mixture of anxiety and excitement. Here’s some tips for parents about how you can help your child stay on top of things and make the most of this important transition.

Encourage them to go to orientation

While not compulsory, attending orientation is one of the most important steps toward mastering uni, especially the sessions that are related to your child’s degree or study area. These sessions can often give out vital information such as going through the requirements for the first practical placement and where to find course related resources. Orientation also offers opportunities for your child to connect with other students such as by signing up to a club or committee they are passionate about.

Support them to ask for help

Encourage your child to engage with uni as much as possible as evidence shows engagement is one of the best predictors of future success. USC has a comprehensive and evidence-based strategy in place to help support students, especially early on. For example, we send all new students our Starting@USC toolkit, an online survey. From their responses, we then send an email tailored to each student about specific items that will make their journey easier. So encourage your child to fill this survey out and to continue to engage by checking emails, going to classes and talking to their classmates.

And despite lots being in place to help students early, one of the main differences between school and uni is more responsibility for students. So, if things are getting a bit overwhelming for your child, they just need to reach out to USC’s Student Central team – a one stop shop that can help direct them to answers about study or support services such as free counselling or career advice.

You can never overprepare

USC runs a whole range of academic skills workshops both before and during semester to help students develop skills such as referencing, academic writing, time management and proofreading. The academic expectations of uni are quite different from school and so these workshops can give your child a better understanding ahead of time, rather than when they get the feedback from their first assessment task.

Throughout the semester, study areas also run drop in sessions or pop ups at certain times during the week where students can walk in with a question or assignment and someone can assist. This can be a much less intimidating environment than asking a question in the middle or a lecture and gives them opportunity to ask further questions.

Help your child understand that ‘not knowing’ may be uncomfortable, but is normal and is only temporary

Having come from Year 12, your child may be used to being the ‘expert’, however starting uni puts them back to being the 'rookie'—and this can be really hard. You child may come home after their first week or two with their head in a spin, but it’s important to explain to them that uni is not something that they will master overnight and that it will probably take at least a full semester to really get into the swing of things.

And they are not alone! Most other students are feeling the exact same way. Although many may find this daunting, encourage your child to talk with other students in their class. One of the best times for intros is while waiting around for class to start. Tell them to put down their smart phones and strike up a conversation.

A USC student sits with other students on campus

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