Showing posts with label First Year. Show all posts
Showing posts with label First Year. Show all posts

3 March 2017

First in family – A world of opportunities

If you are the first in your family to start at Monash University, you might feel you are embarking on the most thrilling and yet frightening journey of your life, says Roland Clements, Learning Skills Adviser. In this post he shares with you the ‘absolute essentials’ that will help you during your first year at university.

You may be the first in your family to have ever thought about going to university. Whatever inspired you to want to study, you are here, which is wonderful - so make the most of it because education and learning can be joyous!

Until the early part of the 20th century, people went for higher education because their subjects fascinated them. They were passionate about what they were studying and intensely curious about the world around them. You are such a person, so don’t be scared or have any reservations.

I’m not going to give you an Alice in Wonderland-style tour of fascinating facts and tricks on how to get the most out of your studies. Our Library offers you a wide range of resources and services which can help you in many of these areas, and they have online tutorials to help you with your study and assignments. What I can share with you are the ‘absolute essentials’ that will help ease the stress of your first year at university. If you have these on hand you won’t feel like a castaway on a desert island (remember Tom Hanks and Mr. Wilson!).

Here are a few essentials you will need for your survival at university at the start of the year. 

1. Campus maps and Library opening hours - Good to have if you need to visit other libraries - Monash students can visit any of our branches.

2. Your Library - Get to know your Library and what it offers: computers, printers, photocopiers, physical items (such as books and DVDs), and online eResources (such as databases and academic journals). The Library staff are always here to work with you through any queries you have, no matter how trivial or complex.

3. Librarians and Learning Skills Advisers - They can work with you to build a number of skills that will be useful both during your time at Monash, and beyond! Librarians have expertise in selecting appropriate databases, searching for academic resources, evaluating sources and citing and referencing. Learning Skills Advisers can build your skills in understanding assignment tasks, structuring your work, academic writing, effective reading, and note taking.

4. Monash M-Pass -Your M-Pass is linked to an online account - you can use it to add credit, copy, print, and pay fines at the Library. You’ll also need it for exams as your student ID!

5. Your username and password - You’ll need this to log in to computers, your, and to access electronic resources (such as databases) through Library Search.

Throughout the course of a regular day at university, you will meet students and lecturers from various corners of the globe who bring their educational knowledge and experience with them. You will learn to work with people from various disciplines and how to work as a team member. No matter what stage in life or circumstances you find yourself, remember that we are all human beings and always learning. So think about the events that brought you to Monash University and make the most of it - persistence and perseverance will lead to success!

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20 February 2017

First-day memories

Are you excited for your first day of university? Or perhaps nervous? Believe it or not, once upon a time all our librarians were freshers too! This week, four staff  - Romney Adams, Clinton Bell, Roland Clements and Romany Manuell - share their memories from when they started uni.


The main thing I remember about my first day at uni is getting lost. I went to the University of Melbourne, where there were three nearby buildings called the Richard Berry, Redmond Barry and Raymond Priestly Buildings. I had lectures in both the “Lowe Theatre, Redmond Barry Building” and “Love Theatre, Richard Berry Building” - and of course, on my first day I ended up at the wrong one.

The other thing I remember is that at orientation there was a company handing out free cans of their new super-strong iced coffee, which they were trying to promote as an energy drink. It was basically a can of really awful, cold espresso. Not only did it taste terrible, anyone who actually finished one ended up with a headache from caffeine overload. Don’t drink weird things just because they’re free!


I was from the country, and I didn’t know anyone! The city kids seemed so cool, and I was wearing beige cargo pants (hey, it was the 1990s!). But I struck up a conversation with the other conscientious students who were WAY too early for First Year Anthropology and we all went to see Frenzel Rhomb together. It was the best of days, it was the blurst of days.

I don’t think I found the library until week 6… Go to the library early, and go often!


My first day at a tertiary institution was a very long time ago, and what I remember was not the best at first. I felt lost, bewildered, beguiled and bedevilled. I remember it was a very, very hot day and I walked on to the campus grounds and all I saw was a mass of people heading somewhere, I had no idea. I saw a conga line and decided to just join the queue not knowing what the line was for and when I reached the table they were handing out lollies and a pen, “big deal”.

So, I turned around and saw a big sign saying “Library”. I expected to be told that you needed some sort of ID to get in but it wasn’t the case and found it to be the ‘coolest’ place on in ‘cold’. The librarians in there looked the way I felt. I found a nice spot and watched the madness outside. I saw a lot of students sitting in the sun to get a tan and that is one problem I sure did not have. So, I hung around for a while and then decided to see what tomorrow would bring. Things changed for the better as time went by and I met other students in my Psychology and other classes. You quickly settle into a routine and happy times follow!


My most vivid memory was having a free can of Red Bull thrust into my hand by an overly-enthusiastic salesperson (who was probably some second-year marketing student trying to make ends meet) wheeling around a cart full of the stuff. I would love to write an emotional tale of spiral into addiction and eventual triumph through my rise from rock-bottom, but the reality is that Red Bull tastes vile. Seriously, if you haven’t tried it already…just don’t. I had to rely on a more traditional route - coffee - to maintain stimulation through the wee hours while desperately finishing off assignments.

What would have been more beneficial was visiting the library, and speaking to staff to find out how I could research effectively, so I didn’t have to rush everything in a mad panic three days before my essays were due. But I was young! Nobody told me! I didn’t know! But now that you’ve read this, you can’t use that excuse. Come visit, we’re here to work with you so you can get the most out of your time with us at Monash!

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17 February 2016

Teaching first year students: some strategies for week one

The first week of classes can be nerve-wracking for both students and teaching staff. If you are teaching first year students there are things you can do to help them make a successful transition, writes Rachel Chamberlain.

The idea of walking into a room full of  strangers is always daunting, so attending that first tutorial or lecture is likely to provoke a level of anxiety in most people.

For our first year students these feelings are intensified by the multitude of ‘firsts’ they will be experiencing in week one. It may be the first time they have met an academic, participated in a tutorial or lecture or had to find a particular classroom or building. Whilst there will certainly be a lot of excitement about all of these new experiences, students are also likely to feel uncertain about how things work, and how they, and others, are a supposed to act in this new environment.

There are some small things we can do in week one to welcome first year students and to help them make a successful transition to university:
  • An open door: Most students will get lost on campus at some stage and this will probably result in them being late to class. Having to enter a class late, particularly on day one can be terrifying for new students and a closed door is a lot more intimidating than an open one. Leaving the classroom door open for the first 10-15 minutes can make entering the classroom a little less intimidating for any student that does get lost. This also enables you to see students who might be tentatively approaching, or even nervously circling the door, allowing you to identify yourself and invite them in.
  • Making connections: It is a good idea to set aside the first part of class for students (and yourself) to get to know each other. A good ice breaker activity will allow students to start developing social connections with their peers. Remember that you can also participate in these icebreaker activities. In fact, your participation can be really important as it shows your students that you have a genuine interest in them as individuals. Depending on the activity it also provides an opportunity for some one on one conversations that can provide you with some really useful information about the students' backgrounds, interests and motivations for enrolling in your unit.
  • Explain the basics: Our first year students are an extremely diverse group. Your class is likely to include international students, those who are first in family, students from high and low socio-economic backgrounds, school leavers or mature age students. This diversity means that the students will have had vastly different educational experiences, and arrive at Monash with differing levels of knowledge about how university, including your unit or class ‘works’. Can students interrupt you during a tutorial to ask questions? Can they leave the room without asking permission? What should they call you? What is the relationship between tutorials, lectures and readings? In what order should students do these? The answers to these questions may seem self evident to us, but to many first year students this is not the case. Taking time to explain the knowledge we take for granted will improve students' confidence and can clear up misunderstandings before they occur.  
  • Speak English (not Monash): If you have been at Monash for a while, it is likely that you casually use acronyms and language that is distinctly “Monash” (Moodle, Authcate, SETU, WES, MULO). Additionally, you are probably fluent in the language of your faculty, or discipline area. Our first year students are unlikely to speak these languages and so avoiding these and/or explaining them is crucial in the first few weeks of the semester.
A student's first few weeks at Monash will have a significant impact on their overall transition to university, and a successful transition in first year will provide a strong foundation for success in later years.

Rachel Chamberlain is a learning skills adviser based in the Berwick Library. Rachel and subject librarian Diana Thompson work with other Library staff, academics and other teams in the University for social inclusion-related programs being implemented across the campuses. Contact Rachel to find out more.

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