Study and the university year: advice for parents

You’ll find that your son or daughter will need to adjust to university life, which is so different to high school. You can help support them better by understanding how the university year and your child's degree is structured.

The university year

The university year is divided into two 15-week semesters (like school terms). Semester one runs from late February/March to late June, while semester two runs from mid-July to mid-November.

Exams take place during the final weeks of each semester. Check our dates page for details.

Important dates

Settling into university life

At university, it's the student's responsibility to stay motivated and hand their work in on time. It can take a while to get used to the new environment and processes, while also trying to socialise and get involved in university life.

To help your child settle in, you can:

  • Recognise their study workload can be like a full-time job – they might feel stressed juggling deadlines and exams.
  • Help them develop their time management and organisational skills.
  • If they're still living at home, provide a quiet, private study area.
  • Help them stay motivated by being positive and encouraging their efforts.

Check in with them. Ask how they’re finding things and if there’s anything you can do to help.

Degree structure: what to expect

If your child is studying full time, their degree should take them around three years to complete. They’ll need to pass certain requisites each year to be able to move to the following year. Some degrees like law or midwifery are very structured, with a lot of compulsory papers (courses). Others are broader, so students can choose a lot of subjects after completing any required ones.

Papers (courses) and classes

Your child will enrol in 3 to 4 papers (courses) each semester. Most papers take one semester to complete, but there are some that take two semesters. These papers are worth more credits towards the student's degree.

Students will have classes to attend for each paper during the semester. It's important for students to go to class, as it increases their chances of passing a paper. A student is also expected to do extra study for every paper outside of their classes.

All AUT papers have an online component and having access to a computer is important. Many programmes post their lecture notes online, but it depends on the programme and the lecturer. There are computers on campus if your child doesn't have one to use at home.

Study advice

Your child will need to organise their time and workload to meet deadlines – most students need to do about 40 hours of study a week, which is the equivalent of a full time job.

Advice for successful study

AUT's support services

We offer some of the most comprehensive student services and support in New Zealand – from Orientation programmes for new students, to academic support and budgeting help.

Student support services