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study-tips 4 min read

What I’ve learnt from 5 residential school experiences

By Adrian 31 Aug 2019
Mature-aged male student typing on laptop.

I started studying engineering as a part-time, external student in 2013 and completed my first residential (res) school in 2015. Living in Tamworth, I had to make the trip up to Toowoomba to attend res school. I wasn’t sure where to stay or what to expect, so my family and I booked into accommodation at a hotel. Luckily, my family was able to join me on my trip to Toowoomba as it was in school holidays. They had a blast in the theme parks near Surfers Paradise, while I completed my res school for the week.

On my first day at res school, I arrived at the University feeling quite nervous as I wasn’t sure what to expect. I sat near some students who soon became my team for the week. I am still in contact with some of these students three years later, staying in touch on social media and catching up at subsequent res schools. Making friendships and developing networks is one of the best things I have gained from my res school experiences. During my first res school experience, I was made aware of the college-stay option and have done this ever since. I find it great to mix with others in the dining hall for breakfast and tea; and staying on-campus is not only extremely convenient, it also has a really great atmosphere.

Residential schools have always helped me with the practical aspect of study. To complete experiments that relate back to theory, meet other external students whom you can ask for advice and brainstorm with, and the ability to have instant access to lecturers are just some of the many benefits I have found from attending res schools. I believe each residential school contributes greatly to my experience with the hands-on study of engineering, helping to keep me motivated to continue with my studies.

One key skill in particular that I have gained by completing res schools is teamwork. I love to accomplish tasks as a group and enjoy the friendly banter between teams. It has been great to work with a diverse range of people as, coming from a regional town, I don’t often get the chance to mingle among the masses.

To pass on a few words of wisdom gained from my res school experiences, the advice I would give to students who are about to attend a res school is to:

  • book in early and stay on-campus. Once there, introduce yourself to people in the food hall, find out their story and tell them yours. Get involved, study hard, and be a good team player. It’s also worthwhile walking around the campus and soaking up the great USQ atmosphere.
  • connect with your new team on social media. Keep in contact, encourage each other, and share experiences as you are sure to meet them again at subsequent res schools.
  • book a meeting with lecturers while you are at res school. Introduce yourself and find out what they think is important. Get yourself known as someone who is interested in the study and wants to do well.

I was not sure what to expect when I first attended as I was a mature-aged student who had not attended formal schooling for a long time. I was worried how I would go. Fast-forward time and I have now completed five res schools and am looking forward to the next! I know now that when I attend, I will meet new people, cram a lot of learning into one week, and, most importantly, have a ball. The great thing about this environment is that you are surrounded by people that are keen to learn and advance their knowledge, so I definitely encourage you to make the most of your time there.

Res schools are a great experience exposing you hands-on to the skills you need in your industry. If, like Daria, you are wanting to diversify your skillset, find out how the Industry Experience Program can develop your skills and knowledge.

Author profile image of Adrian.