Leaving home to study at university or TAFE is a giant leap. Especially for RRR students.
Notre Dame University has a RRR Student Support Program which is like their support for international students. No other Western Australian university or TAFE has anything special in place.
Students flounder. Parents panic.
Stressed parents can help their school leavers to make the giant leap seem more like a hop by doing these things. Tell them to….
1. Get a Mentor
People love it when you value their knowledge and expertise so getting a mentor isn’t rocket science. Just be nice and value what the mentor tells you. Find someone whose subject knowledge you value and start to ask them for advice and support.
Vocational colleges like TAFE do not have formal mentor programs.
Students will need to put in some effort to find a good mentor. They may choose to build a mentor relationship with a lecturer, with one of the many technical experts that work in colleges or with an older student.
This will be their “go to” person when they are wondering what is coming next or how to do something.
Universities have formal mentor programs.
The mentors are older students who are building their resumes by demonstrating leadership through mentoring.
New students are often allocated a mentor during orientation. If you didn’t get one, or if you didn’t get along with your mentor, go to the guild, or student services office, and ask for a mentor in your faculty.
Getting a mentor means you are consciously and deliberately working towards a successful career. That can’t be a bad thing.
2. Find and Use Support Services
Support services are numerous and varied, and they are usually free. You really are not alone but unearthing the support service you need may take some digging.
- Career Counsellors. Most tertiary education institutions have career counsellors. These can be your lifeline when you start to doubt your subject or course choices. Don’t just drop out. Go to one of the counsellors to see what you can do.
- Specialist Support. There will be support for students with identifiable different needs, like Aboriginal students, people with a disability or people from non English-speaking backgrounds. If you are eligible for these services, take advantage of them.
- Classes in Study Skills. There may be classes on study skills, or how to write an essay. They will be designed to address a problem like not knowing how to study most efficiently, or how to write an essay with correct referencing. These skills can save you hours throughout your student career.
- Industry Group Services. Some industry groups, like the building and construction industry, provide mentors, scholarships, mental health programs and industrial relations support through the union. Google your industry to find what support services they offer.
- Specialist Industry Support. Specialist support groups, like Women in Science and Technology and associations like the Marketing Association, the Accountants Association or the Australian Computer Society can help you while you are studying, give you a network for applying for jobs and they will be able to tell you about scholarships, internships and financial support.
3. Stick with Family and Family Friends
Having the freedom to do what you like away from home is exciting. Taking risks is part of the excitement.
New students are a target for crooks and scammers. The crooks and scammers don’t come with it written on their foreheads. They are usually nice, friendly, helpful people who know how to win the trust of a new student.
Believing the old Zen saying, Leap and the net will appear and keep you safe whenever you take a risk, could result in you getting a criminal record or being physically assaulted.
Make a formal plan to stay connected with family and old family friends. If you are unsure about someone, invite them to come with you when you visit your family.
If you don’t feel comfortable inviting them to meet your family or family friends, check your own feelings. Your innate wisdom may be telling your something.
If you invite your new acquaintance and they choose not to come a few times, you will start to question their friendship.
If they do come, and your family does not feel comfortable about this new person, listen to your family. They are the ones who will provide a safety net that protects you as you leap into your new life.
4. Say “YES, and …”
If you just learn from class when you go to uni or TAFE, you are missing out.
There is so much more to enjoy. There are so many opportunities to engage with your industry, enter competitions, take on projects, join clubs, go for scholarships.
Don’t just wait for an opportunity to fall into your lap. Look for things that might interest you on campus noticeboards and join online groups to find out what is going on.
When you hear about an opportunity on campus say “Yes, and where do I apply, what else can I do, when can I start?”
Growth opportunities are generally set up by your campus to help you to have a better student experience.
Just by applying you are creating your own opportunities. You might find out where you are going by setting out in a different direction.
5. Create a Small Group
If you have friends from school studying at your campus they are your obvious first point of contact. You will soon be overwhelmed with new people who are vying for your attention and you will be trying to connect with new people who you meet.
Trying to be friends with everyone will exhaust you. Focus on a small group and establish friendships with them. You can make friends with other people later.
HINT: Be nice to everyone. There is a good chance you will be in the same workplace as them at some stage in your career. It is important that they remember how great you are.
Find out what careers information came out this month. Get a free copy of the latest In Focus Careers Newsletter.