Living on campus

Living on campus, also known as living in college, can be an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. Get some tips on how to manage O-week celebrations as well how to avoid fresher initiations, while still making the most of it all. If you're finding it hard to cope, make sure to seek the support you need.

This might help if you're:

  • About to move into college
  • Starting uni
  • Curious about living on campus
girl writing note and cleaning room

What is college?

In Australia, 'college' is the name commonly used for a residential facility attached to a university.

Living on campus in a residential college is unlike any other experience. Moving out of home and into college coincides with new found freedom, new responsibilities, new relationships and often personal growth.

How you might be feeling:

  • Excited 
  • Worried
  • Curious
  • Apprehensive
  • Overwhelmed
  • Eager

These are all totally normal ways to feel before moving out of home or just after moving into college.

Experiencing O-Week

O-week is often the biggest, most exciting week in the university calendar. It’s usually jam packed with fun activities and social events. Benefits of O-week include:

  • The opportunity to join clubs and societies at uni
  • Things like library tours and ‘starting uni’ talks where you can learn more about university life
  • Heaps of cheap/free food including welcome BBQ’s and course orientation dinners
  • Social events including dance nights, gigs and fairs 

If you're underage

Colleges often organise a lot of 18+ events during O-Week, which can be a real pain if you’re underage. You won’t be the only one, so go hang out in common areas and talk to the other people who may be in the same situation as you. You could even suggest going for coffee or bowling or seeing a movie with them. 

O-Week exhaustion

Many university colleges will organise a late night activity every night of the week for O-Week but don't feel you have to attend if you're exhausted. Sometimes skipping an activity and getting sleep will allow you to enjoy the rest of the week even more.

'Fresher initiation' or hazing

Hazing is an activity expected of someone joining a college or any other group which can embarrass, degrade or risk emotional and/or personal harm. Although it’s been banned by most unis, that doesn't mean it doesn't still exist in some form in various colleges.

You don't have to participate in hazing if you don't want to – you can usually simply indicate that you want to opt out. If you find it happening to you against your will, remember that it can be recognised under law in the same provisions as workplace bullying (see the Workplace bullying fact sheet for more info).

You should report any hazing activities that make you feel uncomfortable to the Dean, Head, or Master of the college, or to the police.

Making the most of it all

Most resident’s committees will organise sporting, cultural and charity events in collaboration with other colleges throughout the year, which can all be a lot of fun. In order to maximise your opportunities it’s a good idea to:

  • Be sociable, even if it's just to have a quick conversation to find out how their study is going, or what they've been up to recently.
  • Be organised. It's a huge temptation to continue your O-Week parties throughout the year. Living on campus is great fun, but don’t forget about your study too. 
  • Get involved in college sports or other competitions. Even if your sporting abilities don't set the world on fire, it’s a great way to meet people.
  • Be aware of how you and your friends are going. It's not unusual for people to go through a tough time at college every now and again. The majority of colleges have their own pastoral care and support services that you can use.
  • Take time for yourself while living on campus. It can be tempting to do stuff all the time. It’s always a good idea to take time out and have some alone time if you need it.

    You should be introduced to your pastoral care team in O-Week, but if you have difficulty finding out who they are, your college Administration will be able to point you in the right direction.

If you’re finding it hard to cope

There are heaps of support services both within and outside the college and uni system. If you or a friend are finding it hard to cope with day-to-day stuff while living on campus then it may help to talk to someone like a counsellor. To find a doctor or mental health professional see the beyondblue Directory of Medical and Allied Health Practitioners in Mental Health or otherwise your GP or local community health centre may be able to recommend someone.

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 and Lifeline 13 11 14 also have counsellors that are available 24 hours a day and the call does not show up on your phone bill.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 17 August, 2015
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