Recently I attended an update session for careers advisors at one of our universities.  The first morning was spent hearing about the wide range of services on offer to both support students while they are studying and to enhance their whole university experience.

All of our universities go to great lengths to provide the best possible services for their students – not just support for academic learning but also an almost limitless range of opportunities to extend existing extra-curricular interests, volunteer in the local community, learn new skills etc.  All provide an excellent career service, including internships to gain experience in the field, support with job applications and graduate placement programmes and industry expos.  And so the list goes on…

The big question though is how do students, especially in their first year when everything is so new, filter the information about these, from the overwhelming onslaught of information, opportunities and new experiences on offer?

A classic example is student exchanges.  Universities typically offer a wide variety of opportunities to study overseas within an undergraduate degree – wonderful opportunities for students, and able to be completed under NZ fee and student loan conditions.  But in order to do an exchange, students often need to begin the application process in their first year – and many simply aren’t ready to take this info on board until it is too late.

These services and opportunities have the potential to transform the university experience, not to mention future career opportunities yet in my experience, no matter how achieving, independent and ‘switched on’ the student might be, awareness of these vital ‘extras’ gets lost in the constant stream of information.

On one hand great services and opportunities – on the other, young students full of potential but overwhelmed by change and information. It seems to me that universities still have some way to go in finding effective ways of ensuring students make the most of all that is on offer to them.

My advice, if you or someone in your family is considering university study, is to get to know the Univerity’s website really well, even before you go.  The information is all there, you just need to connect with it.