What makes College a transformational experience?
At the 2017 University of Adelaide Open Day the Master, Ms Rose Alwyn, spoke about the benefits of college life and how it can be a transformational experience rather than just a place to live.
There are so many reasons why you should consider living at a college in the first few years of your transition from school to university and as you develop key skills that will strengthen your career readiness.
Young people today face increasing pressure during their university years, to perform well and then find a graduate position. As we move further into a highly globalised and technological world we know that it is those people that can work as part of a team, communicate well, problem solve and be highly adaptive who are likely to succeed.
The types of skills that you need to ensure this success are further developed through the experiences that you gain when living in a university residential College. Recently one of our third year engineering students said he had an interview for his summer work placement with a local engineering firm and in providing responses to questions about his problem solving abilities, working in a team, leadership skills, all of the real life examples emanated from real life experiences from College life. Where else can you gain these experiences when you are a university student?
We know that all of the accommodation options provide the basics – bed, desk, wardrobe, internet access, a gym, to name a few. However, not all accommodation options provide an all-round education, library and dining facilities and a genuine community esprit de corps.
That is what a college does.
But a college does so much more and it is not often quantifiable or easily captured and marketed because you have to experience it for yourself!
I like to focus on the six key areas that are unique to a university residential college: academic, pastoral, fully catered, co-curricular and sport, community/friendship and financial support.
1. Academic Support
All colleges have academic tuition and support both through formal tutorials and the peer to peer tutoring that you get when you live literally next door to someone. Because we are a true and lively community with shared facilities you actually get to know all of the people you are living with, the courses they’re studying – you don’t just disappear into your room, and are forgotten!
2. Pastoral Care
Colleges cater to the uniqueness of individuals –we recognise that each student living in our community is an individual – there is no one size fits all approach to student living. Our relationship with students is transformational, not transactional.
Students face problems that you may not have even thought of and our student-centered pastoral care model ensures that a student gets help before it is too late.
You may think that you have your heart set on your degree, but the reality is that up to 30% of students change their degree in their first year of university. This is where colleges provide assistance and support, both formally and informally through mentoring and the opportunity to connect with a variety of students from different disciplines.
3. Fully catered
The last thing that you need to think about is cooking for yourself – sure you might like to cook a meal from time to time and you can do that at College too. However, the time and energy that goes into shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up is huge – or you end up on an unhealthy diet of two minute noodles or expensive UberEats or take away. Not to mention the fact that you will most likely eat it on your lap in front of the television. At College you dine with your friends – you talk about ‘life, the universe and everything in between’ – we all know the great conversations we have over a meal at home and that is something that College does so well.
4. Extra-Curricular Activities
College has a vibrant social life – there are events put on by other students for your enjoyment and when you come back to College after your first year you too can organise events and develop your leadership and teamwork skills.
We all know that a healthy body means a healthy mind and whilst colleges have students from all over the world we also have a large number of students from rural areas where sport has played an important role in building and sustaining a community of young people. Sport galvanises the College community because everyone can participate by supporting their peers in a range of sports that cater for a range of athletic abilities.
If music, art and drama are your strength, you will find friends with similar interests or if you yearn to pick up the guitar you can try your hand at that too. Volunteer work and community service provide opportunities for students to think outwards and support the needs of disadvantaged and marginalised people.
Many Colleges also have a spiritual dimension regardless of religious affiliation.
5. Community – Life Long Friends
University can be so overwhelming and due to the formal mentoring and staff support, colleges are uniquely placed to ensure the transition to university is seamless.
Not to be overlooked are the lifelong friends that you make at College and these become part of your alumni network, much like the university. We also find that because of the high level of engagement our students have within the College, they contribute back to the community and become valued alumni. Our collegians are proud to have a life-long connection with the College.
All colleges provide financial support in the form of scholarships and bursaries and as not for profit organisations any financial surplus does not go back to shareholders, it is always directed towards the benefit of students current and future.
College life is deeply personal and deeply fulfilling…. and it even goes down to the language we use;
• We have students – not residents
• We know all of our students by name
• Our staff live on site and are available at any time
• We don’t talk about the number of beds in our residence, we talk about the number of student places we have in our college. This is the difference between a place you call your home – a place where you live – not a place you stay at.
A college is a place where you belong – it is a place where you belong for life!