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Here's What To Expect In Your First Year Of Higher Education

Sep 21, 2021

Are you ready for higher ed? Whether you’re finishing high school, or returning from a gap year, or you’ve rediscovered a passion and want to pursue it as a career, the first year can seem daunting. It’s a whole new world, but that doesn’t mean you have to be left in the dark about what to expect—so we’re here to help.

Back of two students studying


SELF-DISCIPLINED STUDY


In high school, your teachers remind you daily: homework’s due! They monitor you closely with reports, and that 9AM to 3PM weekdays are reserved for education. Things are a little different in post-high school life.

This isn’t to say there isn’t guidance, passion, and support, but your study times are more flexible than ever. You might have one class on Tuesday morning and another on Thursday evening, with all this spare time in-between. It’s up to you, then, to keep yourself on track.

Organisation tools are your best friend: write up to-do lists, keep a diary (virtual or physical), manage your tasks using the plethora of project management tools out there (Monday or Notion, for example), and schedule your days. Not only is it going to help you stay on-top of your study load, but you’ll be able to plan your fun around it as well, stress-free.

If you’re struggling, most institutes of higher education have a support team that can help you. At Collarts, our Academic Skills Manager Chris Sandoe is always ready to lend a hand in building those study structures. Get in touch with him at academicskills@collarts.edu.au.

Student eating a taco in front of a taco truck


THE ALLURE OF SPENDING


Speaking of free time, you’ll have plenty to explore your campus and beyond. Most campuses are located close to other amenities, and in Collarts’s case, all four campuses are located centrally in the Collingwood/Fitzroy area. That means you’re surrounded by design and entertainment stores, venues, and more. 

But with this comes the allure of spending. Why not try out that café on the corner for lunch again? Why not pick up some new clothes while you’re here? Or records? Or books? Drinks after class at the local pub?

It’s time to sort out a budget. Temptation can be easy to fall into, but if you wanna make rent or purchase necessities, you’ll have to cut back on unnecessary buys. Instead of buying coffee, why not use our coffee machine in the student kitchen? There’s cheap ramen at reception if you’re in a pinch, and maybe stick to window shopping if you’re coming up to rent time.

Lay it all out on paper (or online) if you need to; it’s amazing what a Google Sheet and direct debits can do.

This way, when you do want to buy that cool, patterned jacket from SWOP, you can do it without the guilt, knowing that you’re allowed to treat yourself within your means.

Student holding video camera


GETTING HANDS-ON WITH
EQUIPMENT & FACILITIES


At the end of a high school day, the gates close and you go home.

Post-high school, you’re welcome to use campus facilities and equipment, something that will come in handy if you’re struggling with sourcing the right tools or even just internet access.

Make the most of these benefits while you’re here. Some equipment might be way out of your personal budget, but you’ll have the chance to familiarise yourself with it for free. Microphones, cameras, instruments, lights, pedals, and much more. 

Or maybe you want to book out a space (like a photography or recording studio), circumventing an enormous hiring fee to simply use one on-campus. We’ve got all the bells and whistles.

Usually, it’s just an online booking or reception chat away, but if you’re pursuing an online course, you can still make equipment and facility bookings, and for some, a kit can be mailed out to you, such as the online Screen & Media diploma.

Students dressed up posing for the camera, one student holding binoculars up to their eyes

FORGING A NEW COMMUNITY


With flexible class hours and multiple campuses, you might be wondering: how do I make friends? There might not be school carnivals, but higher ed schools offer something more: community events

Community is a key component of Collarts, and we regularly hold events to support this. There’s always O-Week to rely on, which ends in a celebration or party, and the beginning of trimesters kick off with a bang: workshops, industry guest talks, performances, bus tours, alumni networking, and more. There’s something for everyone.

Throughout the year, there’s bound to be more events to commemorate holidays like Halloween (including a costume competition and prizes) too.

If you’re an online student, you’re not left in the lurch either — the new digital age means most of our events have an online option, and you can engage with our Collarts Connected series, where industry pros, our talented staff, students, or alumni live-stream via the Collarts Facebook (you’d be surprised at how much a live chat can pop off).

And if you’re still grasping for new friendships, the Collarts Common Room is a touchstone for online communication. You’ll find Facebook groups for most institutes (official, or not) that are used for connections and information.

Through our Common Room, find out more about what fellow Collartsians are doing, find job and collaboration opportunities, and get pinged about external events others are hosting.

Group of students sitting on a couch and speaking into a microphone


GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE


One of the greatest things about higher ed is meeting a whole new group of people.

This isn’t like high school, where you’re grouped by school zones and ages; in higher education institutes, not only will you meet people who come from completely different backgrounds to you, but for the first time, you’ll be studying with people who you know share similar interests to you.

If you’re studying Comedy, it’s safe to say your classmates probably know about the popular Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows. If you’re studying Fashion & Sustainability, your classmates could probably give you some designer recommendations. If you’re studying Advertising, you’ll have someone to fawn with over a cool new ad campaign.

Above all, at Collarts, everyone has a creative mind, and sometimes, when you’re stuck deep in the suburbs as a teenager, it can be hard to find a scene of fellow creatives. You’ll have no problem here.

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