Trinity College grounds

What is a residential college?

In the United States, ‘college’ is synonymous with university. In Australia, the term ‘college’ isn’t as well known, but living at a residential college – or living on campus – is a fantastic way to ensure you get the most out of your university experience. This is what living at a residential college means in Australia.

It’s the most convenient place to live at university

A residential college is an on-campus accommodation facility that is generally very close to a university, or is sometimes even on university grounds. This makes going to uni lectures and tutorials super convenient and takes the stress out of commuting (plus you don’t waste any precious study or socialising time!).

Here at Trinity College, we’re affiliated with the University of Melbourne (consistently ranked the number one university in Australia – woo!) and, for us, Melbourne University is literally right next door. You can’t get any more convenient than that.

At a residential college, students generally live in ‘corridors’ of wall-to-wall individual rooms with shared bathroom and laundry facilities. This means you get your own personal space (including a bed, desk, fridge, wardrobe etc), but always have friends nearby. Often your corridor members become like family.

Trinity College bedroom

You’ll instantly be surrounded by ready-made friends

Living at college offers far more than just convenience. Many students say the best thing about living on campus is the people you meet and the friends you make – including those who live in your corridor and those within the wider college community.

When you arrive at college, EVERYONE is in the same boat – you’re all starting university, most of you are living out of home for the first time, and most of you are keen to socialise and make the most out of your university experience. With so much in common from the get-go, making friends is a breeze.

At Trinity, we have around 400 students living on campus and nearly everyone is friends with everyone. Here it doesn’t matter what year level you are or what you’re studying, our students are always keen to get to know each other.

Alumni (former students) of residential colleges often say they ‘found their people’ at college – the ones who share their interests and passions and become firm friends. It’s not uncommon for Trinity students to stay friends for life (or even become partners for life!).

Trinity College friends

You get to have mega fun at O Week

You’ve probably heard of O Week, and this is often where those close friendships start.

Each year, a residential college welcomes a new group of first-year residents, called ‘freshers’. Led by an elected group of senior students, these freshers go through O Week (Orientation Week) together, taking part in daily activities and events before the university semester begins. Usually, a residential college themes its O Week, with a large number of events complementing the theme. For example, for Trinity College’s 2020 freshers, their theme was ‘O(lympic) Week’, with a number of Olympic and ancient Greek-style events taking place.

Towards the end of O Week, once the freshers have settled into their new home and started to make friends, the second and third-year returners come back to college and meet their new neighbours.

Universities also run O Week, and you can join a range of university-led activities too, but just between us … college O Weeks are generally more fun! That’s largely because you’re doing activities with the same group of people the whole week, which forms a rock-solid foundation for those life-long friendships we mentioned.

Trinity College O Week

You don’t have to cook

The types and number of meals offered differs from college to college, but at Trinity, our students get three meals a day, seven days a week (plus snacks), prepared fresh by our talented kitchen staff. Visit our food page to check out the deliciousness our kitchen serves up. We even have a dedicated chef who caters to special dietary requirements.

What about cleaning? Again, this varies, but generally you’ll be required to clean your own room while professional cleaners take care of the rest.

You receive plenty of support while studying at university

Not all residential colleges are created equal, but at Trinity College, we provide a high level of care to our residents. That’s because we know studying at a university level and living away from home can be stressful.

To help support our students, we have a number of wellbeing staff and an outreach committee, specifically focused on keeping our students happy, healthy and supported, even during the most stressful period of semester (*cough*exams*cough*).

Tied into that, many residential colleges also offer academic support, usually through the hiring of tutors. Trinity College excels in this area, as we have one of the most comprehensive academic programs of all the residential colleges at the University of Melbourne.

Our academic program doesn’t just include subject tutorials to complement your university education, but we also help connect students with expert alumni, for instance through our ‘fireside chat’ lectures, and run seminars on various topics throughout the semester. Overall, the program helps students transition from the very different learning environment of high school to university.

These are just some of the main criteria that make up a residential college in Australia. But for Trinity College, this is just the tip of the iceberg! If you want to know more about what college life looks like, you can read about the Trinity Residential College here.