Congratulations! You have a family member or friend who has been offered a place at Flinders University. It is something to celebrate. However, you may also feel a bit worried and wonder what this new experience will be like for you, as well as for your family member or friend.
The following information may be useful if you yourself have not studied at university, or if you have not studied at an Australian university.
We have developed some translated material for families and friends of new Flinders University students in the following languages:
- Arabic (PDF 112KB)
- Bosnian (PDF 21KB)
- Farsi (PDF 104KB)
- Hindi (PDF 55KB)
- Indonesian (PDF 15KB)
- Russian (PDF 110KB)
- Tagalog (PDF 25KB)
- Vietnamese (PDF 41KB)
University is a very different culture from school. Most students need some time to settle in, and their marks may not be as good at first as they had hoped. As they become more used to university, things should improve. They will need your encouragement as they adapt to the university culture.
Students are required to manage their own timetable, and this can be quite difficult in the beginning. Lecturers will generally not remind students when work is due or contact students if they have not submitted their work on time. University students need to develop the skills to organise their studies independently.
Students may request extensions on assignments if they have health or personal difficulties. They will usually need to provide documentation from either a doctor, counsellor or other professional who is aware of the circumstances. In most cases it is important to request extensions before the original date for submission.
Where students make an appointment to see one of the University counsellors, the information discussed is treated as confidential and will not be disclosed in any detail to other University staff.
Students may need to attend some lectures in the evenings and will often need to visit the library in the evenings or weekends—especially before and during the exam period and around the time when assignments are due.
Security staff are available to walk students to their cars or to public transport during the evenings.
Students are often asked to work on group projects. This will mean working with a range of other students, men and women. Students may need to contact each other by phone or email to discuss their project or may need to arrange meetings to write group reports. This enables students to learn essential workplace skills where project teams are often required to work together.
Many students need to have part-time employment to help support themselves and their families. Research suggests that students working over 15 hours per week or working early morning or irregular shifts are less able to perform well in their studies.
For each unit studied, students need to allocate approximately two hours of time. If students are studying 18 units, then this will give them a 36-hour study week. Generally, students do not benefit from studying for very long periods of time. It is much more effective to study for an hour or so and then take a short break so that their concentration is refreshed when they return to study.
Students often benefit from talking with other students in their course. Research at the University shows that where students study together, their performance is generally higher.
Students are encouraged to take some time off from study for recreation or for some social activities.
Most students will discover their own individual study strategies and it is important that they learn how they study most effectively.
The University provides a number of activities for students in areas of interest. It is very useful for students to attend some of these activities. For example, Law students may wish to take part in debating or public speaking, as this can be very helpful for their future career.
The Careers and Employer Liaison Centre, a free service at the University, runs a series of leadership programs where student are taught essential skills for gaining employment. These often take place during holidays outside of students' usual lecture times.
The University Counselling Service, a free service at the University, employs a team of experienced professional counsellors to assist students with study issues, difficulties with concentration, time management, stress or low self-esteem. Discussions are confidential and are not disclosed in any detail to others. Family or friends may attend a counselling session but in general would need to arrange this with the consent of the student and the counsellor. Where there are serious concerns about the health or well-being of the student, these concerns will be discussed as soon as possible.
The Student Learning Centre, afree service at the University, is a team of academic staff who provide support for students who are having difficulty with such things as writing assignments, researching in the library or presenting information in groups. They also help students to manage their time more effectively.
The University has sport and fitness facilities, managed by Flinders One, with a fully equipped gym and a program of fitness activities. Students are encouraged to take part in sporting and fitness activities. Physical health improves academic performance in most cases and reduces stress and fatigue.
Successful students use these services and enjoy the support and encouragement of family and friends.
What you can do to help
Family and friends do not have to take over the organising of study timetables, but it is very helpful to provide encouragement. Families can help a lot by being positive and supportive. They can encourage students to continue to eat well and maintain their fitness. It is still important, however, for students to see that getting their degree is their responsibility.
At peak times of study, when assignments are due or when exams are scheduled, families and friends may need to support students by reducing the student's family responsibilities and taking over some of their family and household duties for a time.
It can be difficult for students to take part in some family activities if they have a high study load at the same time. Where possible, it is helpful to arrange family activities around the student's study schedule.
Students who are not studying the course of their choice generally have greater difficulty getting good grades. It is important for families and friends to support students' choices of study programme. It is also useful to share ideas and experiences that may help students to make course choices.
While students get their degrees in their own names, families and friends will hopefully also benefit.