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Living on campus, also known as ‘living in college’, can be a nerve-racking but exciting experience. Get some tips on how to make the most of it all.

This can help if:

  • you want to know more about living on campus
  • you’re about to move into a college
  • you want tips for managing a group house at uni.
Boy listening to music on laptop

What does ‘living on campus’ mean?

When you start university and you move into accommodation at the uni, you’re living on campus. This usually happens in one of two ways:

At a college: In Australia, the living facilities attached to a university are usually called ‘colleges’ or ‘residency halls’. They provide a room, furniture, meals, amenities and student support.

In student accommodation: This is accommodation, usually apartments, situated near the university but doesn’t include extras such as meals and student support.

O-week and ‘hazing’

Orientation week (O-week) is the week before classes start. Most colleges go overboard with activities and ‘get to know you’ events during this time. ‘Hazing’ can also take place. Hazing is an activity where someone joining a college or any other group is required to do something embarrassing, degrading or risky (emotionally and/or physically) as part of an initiation rite. People have died from hazing events, such as from being required to drink a large quantity of alcohol in a short period of time. Although it’s been banned by most unis, hazing still exists in some form in various colleges.

Stuff to remember:

A lot of events are for over-18s. You won’t be the only one left out if you’re still underage. Find your fellow not-yet-legal-adults and make your own party.

Don’t feel you have to attend events if you’re exhausted. Sometimes, skipping an activity and getting some sleep will allow you to enjoy the rest of the week even more.

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. Report anything that makes you uncomfortable to the dean, head of college or the police.

Tips for living with about 500 flatmates

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 party your way through 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 then. The majority of colleges have their own pastoral care and support services that you can use at these times.

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.

What can I do now?