Your guide to achieving success at university

You’ve made it. All the hard work has paid off and you’re finally a student at the University of Newcastle.

Congratulations!

It may seem like you’ve reached your end goal but this is just the beginning.

A plethora of exciting, rewarding and sometimes challenging experiences are coming your way. Best to be prepared.

Success at university is all about balance. Focus on your studies, but don’t neglect your friends, physical and mental health.

You will need to be persistent, responsible and resilient. Easy yeah?

Of course not. Knowing this, UON has made plenty of services available so you can live your best life.

Academic

By now, you’ve excitedly read through the course guide, picked your degree and can’t wait to start learning for your future career.

Depending on your course, you will have a mix of lectures, online learning activities, tutorials, workshops and placements.

To stay up-to-date, make sure you check myUON regularly, specifically Blackboard and your emails. This is where your lecturers and tutors will send out vital information and you can prepare for class each week. The University will also send you emails and notifications about enrolment, exams and events happening on campus, so keep an eye out!

It’s important to stress you don’t have to navigate all of this on your own. One of the most beneficial decisions I made in my first year was sign-up for a Peer Mentor. She told me what to expect in my tutorials, where the best coffee on campus was and how to buy second-hand textbooks (extremely valuable).

You can also get help from other students who not only studied, but excelled, in your course through Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS). These free sessions are run on a weekly basis and allow you to compare notes, discuss difficult concepts and review material. The person running the sessions is a student who achieved a distinction or higher in that course previously. At the moment there are over 50 courses offering PASS across all campuses, with some also available online. With research from the University showing students who attend PASS typically perform better than those who don’t, it’s absolutely worthwhile taking advantage of this.

If you’re looking to boost your academic skills, Learning Development offers a range of workshops as well as individual consultations. These cover topics like study skills, academic writing, maths and statistics, and English language. Best of all, if you book an individual consultation you can receive help with those dreaded assessments! 

Social

University isn’t just about hitting the books. Now is your chance to make lifelong friends, volunteer for a worthy cause or maybe even pick up a new hobby.

All this kicks off with Orientation: your first real opportunity to see just how fun UON can be. On top of finding out the information you need to start uni on the right foot, you will get to meet your new classmates, as well as join clubs and societies at the Expos. Other events include campus tours, BBQ lunches, a drive-in movie, sports jam, backyard cricket and a water park party! Wrapping up this stellar week is O Party, which you won’t want to miss.

Even if you do miss Orientation, there are plenty of other opportunities to join one of the Uni’s 80-plus clubs and societies, or even start your own! There are degree-based ones like Med Soc, BusCom and the University of Newcastle Law Students Association (UNLSA), as well as sporting, social, cultural and faith-based groups. Think: Vinnies Youth Social Club, Exchange Student Network, Affordable Wine Appreciation Society, Anime, Mountaineering, Snow Sports, United Nations, Yoga, Christian Club, Sikh Society, Baseball, Cheerleading, Hockey, Quidditch… Need I go on?

So whether you want to meet new people, change the world, get fit, or discover a new talent – there’s something for you.

No need to feel like you’re missing out if you’re not part of a club; there are heaps of activities and events. One thing you’ll appreciate is how much free food there is to devour. The weekly BBQs at Callaghan are always a favourite, but you can also get breakfasts at NUSA (Newcastle University Students Association), and grub at the other special events which happen regularly. Highlights of the event calendar include the Cultural Awakenings Festival, Stress Less, Festival of Autonomy, International Women’s Day and of course the parties at Bar on the Hill.

Professional

Let’s be real, for most, studying is a means to an end – your dream job!

Don’t be mistaken into thinking you have to wait until graduation to start taking serious steps toward starting your career. The University provides ample opportunities for you to beef up your resume and make yourself more attractive to potential employers.

You will want to get to know the Careers and Student Development team from your first year. Whether you’re just looking for part-time work or need help applying for graduate positions, there’s a service or resource to help you out.

CareerHub’ on myUON offers a range of resources like workshop bookings and fact sheets on how to write a cover letter and the like. But perhaps the most useful tool is their job search platform. Similar to SEEK or Jora, it also contains internships, international opportunities and student-specific jobs on campus. I cannot recommend highly enough applying for a job on campus; the conditions are great, the pay’s excellent, and the location is so convenient.

Let’s say you do find a job you want to apply for, wouldn’t you want to make sure your application is the best it can be? Swing by and visit one of our Career Consultants! Through Careers Express, you can get feedback on your resume and cover letter, as well as discuss job search strategies. If you’re feeling a bit nervous, they can also help with interview preparation and discuss your career goals more broadly. If you study at Callaghan or City campus, you don’t even need to make an appointment for these 10-minute consultations! Find out what time you can drop by at your campus. Need more than 10 minutes? You can book a 20-minute consultation through CareerHub­.

Volunteering is also a great way to boost your employability, develop skills and meet people. There are stacks of volunteering opportunities to suit your interests. Thinking about working in the media? Sign up for Yak! Got a green thumb? Get your hands dirty at the Community Garden! Just want to get involved with the community? Help run a bunch of activities and events on campus like Create 2308 and Green Week. Check out the full range of volunteering opportunities on offer to find something which suits your interests. 

Personal

As important as university is, your health and wellbeing should always come first. When things are looking tough, remember you don’t have to go it alone.

Counselling

Professionally trained psychologists and social workers are available for individual counselling sessions at Callaghan, NeW Space, Central Coast, Port Macquarie and our Sydney campus. These sessions are completely free and confidential, where you can feel comfortable to discuss any issue.

If you’re unable to make it to campus, there are also a range of online counselling options:

  1. Skype Drop-in

Through Skype Drop-in sessions, you’re able to talk to a counsellor without booking an appointment. Visit the website for their operating hours.

  1. Online sessions

These online sessions are effectively run in the same way as those on campus, except you can receive personalised support from wherever you feel secure. Options to access these sessions include phone, email, Zoom (audio, video or text) and Skype.

To book an appointment, speak to a Student Support Advisor, reach out via Skype Drop-in or email onlinecounselling@newcastle.edu.au.

  1. UON Counselling website and blog

On this blog, you can find an array of articles relating to student wellbeing and study performance. For example, if you consider yourself a perfectionist and it’s negatively impacting your assessments, the counsellors have prepared a range of strategies to help you establish more realistic expectations.

 

The University Crisis Support line is available between the hours of 5pm-9am on weekdays, and 24 hours over the weekends and public holidays. Call the line on 1300 653 007 or text 0488 863 216.

Campus Care

Campus Care provides help managing inappropriate, concerning or threatening behaviour. The program aims to create a safe environment for all students, staff and visitors at UON by providing support at all stages of a distressing or sensitive situation.

You can report any instances of concerning behaviour through a secure online form, which a member of the Campus Care team will investigate and take appropriate action. This may include referral to clinical services and minimising the impact of psychological distress.

Campus care can be contacted on 49218600 or campuscare@newcastle.edu.au.

Chaplaincy  

Chaplaincy services are available at both the Callaghan and Central Coast campuses. Chaplains are the backbone of spiritual life at UON and offer compassionate help. You don’t even have to be religious to see a chaplain. Rather, they can simply be a great help in making major vocational decisions, conflict resolution and offering Justice of the Peace services.

Student Advisor

If you’re ever feeling lost and not sure what path you should take, hit up a Student Advisor. Available in all Student Central locations, Student Advisors are here to answer your questions and help you access support. They can work with you to create a personalised plan to succeed in your studies, or just offer a listening ear.

Medical Centres + Pharmacy

With plenty of services to help maintain your mental health, what about your physical ailments? Callaghan and Central Coast campuses are both home to BULK-BILLING medical centres for UON students and staff.

No need to travel off campus to get that prescription filled out either, with the Callaghan Campus Pharmacy conveniently located underneath the Shortland Building.

 

Now that you know the essentials, it’s time to leave your mark at UON. After all, who knows what you might achieve? Happy studying!