Big move for small-town students

Orientation Week festivities have marked the traditional start to the new university year for more than 155 aspiring young students who, during the course of the next three to four years, will call the Charles Sturt University Dubbo campus home.

Students from some of the smallest and most remote reaches of western NSW are for the first time getting a taste of life outside the confines of their childhood homes - many taking their very first steps into adulthood, life among a new group of peers and the start of their higher educational lives.

For Tottenham's Julia Tood, 18, the start of O-Week sparks a number of mixed feelings of both sheer excitement and trepidation - from finding her way about a regional city more than 40 times the size of her hometown - to meeting other young students and becoming accustomed to life inside the university campus walls.

"I'm a little worried about the workload," the hopeful early childhood teaching student lamented.

"It's going to be very different from what I'm used to back home."

However, the sense of urgency and readiness to throw herself into her chosen field is a sentiment shared by the dozens of other young students who are at the same time transitioning from high school to university.

"I'm looking forward to making a new group of friends... I arrived on Sunday so I've had a couple of days to meet some of the others who I'm going to be starting class with next week," she said.

Among the new intake will be a record number of students across all four faculties.

This year's intake will see an increase in the number of new students by about 40 per cent - up from the 111 enrolled in 2012 and 97 in 2011.

In all there will be 61 enrolled in a Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Education, while the university's other faculties will see strong numbers entered in Bachelor of Nursing, 35, seven in Business and six in Social Work.

There are also 25 Indigenous students enrolled to start in the campus' Teacher Education in the Community Program, which allows students to get a jump start on their careers without the pressure of having to leave their communities.

There are also 21 students enrolled to complete TAFE Pathways, which acts as a bridging course to prepare students for the step up to tertiary education.

CSU Dubbo senior residential support officer Kevin Faulkner has watched on for 10 years as the school grew and said, while it would never likely rival the university's Bathurst or Wagga Wagga campuses, the student mix and ratio of new and mature-aged cohorts has continually diversified.

"Traditionally our students have come here from small and remote places further west, but we're getting a great mix of students coming in from the eastern areas now as well," he said.

"The mix of new and mature-aged students probably sits at around 65-35, respectively, which is pretty good for a campus of this size.

"I think the overall learning experience you can take away from a smaller campus is among the big factors bringing students to CSU Dubbo. For many it's because Dubbo is closer to home, but more so we are finding the small class sizes really has a positive impact on a students' overall experience."

The university will be holding a range of events this week to coincide with O-Week celebrations.

After attending a meet-and-greet on the campus with faculty last night, many young ones will be gearing up to let their hair down at a social evening slated for the Amaroo Hotel tonight.

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