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July 12, 2011 / uniexpectations

help is there if you need it

“Is there any way you can help my son?  He’s on the verge of leaving University.  He thinks he has ‘blown it’. He’s dug himself into a hole he can’t get out of”. 

So pleaded a parent in Week 2 of Semester. 

I learnt that the first year student travelled a fair distance to campus, had become lost in the unfamiliar maze of buildings in Week 1, and then gone to the wrong lectures.  The result?  He didn’t go to lectures in Week 2.  He felt dumb, exhausted and overwhelmed and thought he couldn’t catch up on the work he had already missed.  And to top it off, he seemed to be the only one to have come from his high school to university. 

Most tertiary students can relate to some of the above, but do survive the initial weeks of confusion and anxiety.  Take note mid- year entry students……we know that if you persevere through the first six weeks you are likely to stay and succeed!

Here’s some good news

  • Almost nothing is irretrievable once you have accepted an offer to University; there are almost always options to your dilemmas
  • You belong at Uni; Universities only make offers to people they believe will succeed
  • If you think you have enrolled in the wrong degree you can almost always transfer into something else; talk to a Course advisor or counsellor
  • Student support services exist for all students; they are there to help, not judge so find out where they are and use them
  • Students who get involved with peers and campus activities are more likely to stay and succeed so don’t be shy; there’s a place for you


Always talk to someone at University before making any serious decisions.  Talk to a course advisor, a student support officer in your Faculty or a counsellor at the Counselling Service. Build networks with peers and academic staff. 

Be proactive in asking questions and seeking assistance.  Remember-there’s no such thing as a stupid question.  Balance your studies and paid employment with leisure activities.

And have fun. 


Written by: Audrey Stratton

Transition Advisor, Transition and Advisory Service, Student Support Service, The University of Adelaide



One Comment

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  1. Carolyn Semmler / Aug 8 2011 3:31 pm

    Hi Audrey,
    I’m just putting together the open day slides on a ‘beginners’ guide to uni’. I was talking to a friend (another academic who is now at Portsmouth) about what first year was like and we were both country kids who had to leave home to attend uni, no one in our immediate family had been to uni and so they really could not help as far as providing knowledge of what uni would be like. Both of us had the same sort of experience described by you above, got lost, felt stupid and worst of all like we really were not mean to be there. Yet we persevered and now, we are both academics! If only there was some way of travelling back in time to show first years how hopeless some of us academics were when we started!

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