child starting uni

Child going to university? Here’s what to expect

When you have a child going to university it’s a big step – not only for your child but also for you as their biggest cheerleader. It’s only natural that you’ll want to support your child’s first year at university. To help them navigate the new experiences and responsibilities that come with going to uni.

Sometimes it can seem like a real balancing act. You want to offer them the right kind of advice at the right time, but you want them to have the freedom that comes with taking this step.

So it can be helpful to know what to expect from your child’s first year of university study, and some of the challenges they may face – then you can be there when they need you.

Studying at university

Studying at university is different from studying at high school, or even TAFE. Uni is likely to be your child’s first adult learning experience and they’ll soon become familiar with a new way of learning through lectures and tutorials. These are key teaching techniques, whether your child is studying online or on campus. There’s a good chance your child will also take part in practical workshops throughout their course as well. Hands-on learning is what we do best at Charles Sturt!

Time management is everything!

There’s also a greater emphasis on self-managing study time and motivation at uni. Actual contact hours with academics are likely to be fewer than at high school, but students are expected to undertake readings, research and assignments independently. It can be a good idea to work through some time-management strategies with your child before they start so they can be confident about managing their workload.

Fortunately, Charles Sturt University runs orientation for on-campus and online students in the week leading up to the start of the first study session. Orientation helps prepare students for uni life so they’ll be confident to take on the challenges.

During orientation, your child can:

  • attend academic preparation workshops
  • explore the learning facilities
  • meet academics and fellow students.

Adapting to academic writing styles

Another difference that your child will notice during their first year at university is the style of writing. Academic writing requires new skills (such as referencing) and the development of evidence and argument over longer pieces of writing.

This can seem a little daunting, but we offer dedicated support services to help. So if your child would like to brush up on their writing skills, encourage them to contact the Student Skills team. They’re super friendly and super helpful!

If your child wants to get a head start, get them to take a look at a Study Link course. Study Link subjects are a great way to build skills and gain confidence. They are free for Commonwealth Supported students and don’t count towards a degree, so there’s no pressure.

Uni life

It’s not just studying that’s different at university; life can also take different turns during the first year of university. At Charles Sturt, we’ll support your child throughout their study journey.

Chances are, your child will be studying with students from all over Australia and across the world. If they choose to study on campus, they’ll be getting to grips with the pleasures and challenges of communal living. And there’s the whirl of requirements that come with being an independent adult – from navigating new relationships to doing the laundry.

These adjustments can result in some ups and downs, so it’s important to support your child when they reach out for reassurance. Likewise, it’s important to make sure your child signs up with a local doctor. You can also encourage them to connect with our health and wellbeing teams, who’ll help them stay in good physical and mental shape.


Studying at university comes with a new set of responsibilities – like managing money. There are fees and costs (like books and food if they’re self-catering) to organise and pay for at the right time. And there may be government loan schemes to navigate. Not to mention a social life to fund.

You can help by sharing your own budgeting tips. Encourage your child to keep a record of their outgoings so they can ‘balance the books’. You should also encourage them to research and apply for any scholarships they’re eligible for. Charles Sturt and partners provide millions of dollars a year to students to help meet the costs of study – students just like your child. They can probably apply for more than one!

We also have a financial support team that can help your child with budgeting, planning and applying for loans, as well as programs to help them find a part-time job if they want one.


If your child has chosen to live on campus, they might feel homesick at some point. After all, for many students it will be the first time they’ve lived away from family. As a parent, you can encourage your child to engage with our Residence Life team who support students in making the transition to living away from home. Your child can also join one of our many clubs and societies to make friends and feel part of the uni community.

University can also be stressful. Meeting deadlines, managing workloads and getting to grips with the advanced level of study can put students under pressure. Helping with time-management plans is a great way to support your child through these periods of stress. And as part of a schedule, ensure they plan some downtime and exercise. A healthy body means a healthy mind, right? Most of our campuses have free gyms and sports areas available to all students.

During your child’s first year at university, they’ll also have access to free our professional counselling service. Talking through any worries can relieve a lot of stress, especially around exam time.

An experience like no other

The first year of university will be full of highlights for your child. They’ll be studying something they’re passionate about, with academics and peers who share their enthusiasm. They’ll make new friends, have new experiences and develop a whole new social circle. They’ll discover they joy of great exam results, the satisfaction of mastering new skills and the inspiration of uncovering new knowledge.

Want to find out more about your child’s first year at university?

Check out our parents or guardians page to keep informed with the latest events, resources and course information for your child at university.