About Amanda - USQ Student Blogger

Hello :) My name is Amanda. I am a USQ student, currently studying a Bachelor of Business with a major in marketing. I am in my first year of study, and I am an on-campus student in Toowoomba. I lead a very busy life, as I am sure most uni students would. When I am not studying, I work part time at a local cafe. I am a committee member of the newly formed USQ Student Chamber of Commerce, which is a very exciting project for me and those involved. When I have some time to relax, I love to listen to live music when there is a band playing in town, or do some baking at home - with the help of Betty Crocker! I have only been studying at uni for six months, and I have loved every moment of it. The opportunities at USQ are amazing, and the flexibility of study here makes maintaining life's balance so easy. USQ understands the importance of living life, and this blogger wants to be there for you as you live your USQ life too!

O-Week: A week to remember.


So it’s here, the return of Semester – and what a way to kick it off! O-Week, as always, saw the university come alive with energy and excitement. Thousands of students came on campus to experience university life (many for the first time). With information sessions, live music, movie nights, party nights and Phoenix Carnival, this was a jam-packed week for our students.

The week kicked off at Alison Dickson Lecture Theatre with the VC, Mrs Jan Thomas, giving an inspiring welcome speech. Students then broke into faculty sessions and had the opportunity to attend workshops such as time management, university services, library tours and many more. And of course, where would O-Week be without some live music, Red Froggers and Free Stuff?

Throughout the week students could take part in Bush Dances, a movie night, an under 18’s Café Crawl and of course – a themed Party Night at The Spotted Cow. The week ended with the first annual Phoenix Carnival – which included live music, market, food stalls and lots of games and activities.
However, I wasn’t sure if words could really re-create the vibe of this week, so I have created a video which showcases the O-Week Journey for our students and staff. Enjoy!

– Amanda

Tips, Tricks and the Turtle Man

A new year, a new semester, a new outlook…time for a new blog. (Well, I have missed the boat on it being a new year – somehow it is already a month into 2013 – I had better start my Christmas shopping). Nevertheless, 2013 has brought with it a gust of excitement. I am entering into my second year of uni and I cannot wait to start!

Crazy, some would say. What’s so great about going back to study after such a great holiday? Let me make the answer clear by re-phrasing the question. “What can university offer me that I can’t get from watching the Turtle Man and Operation Repo all holidays?” Umm…perhaps a degree/career/great life/fulfilment/well-paying job?


Yep, pretty keen to start uni again…

However, this time 12 months ago I would not have only used the wording ‘excited’ to describe my feelings about starting uni. Perhaps add nervous, scared, unsure…and…stressed. So, I would like to dedicate this blog to all of the students starting university for the first time (yippee!). As an experienced uni-goer, I feel I should share with you the tips and tricks I have picked up along the way. Enjoy!

Preparation is first step in a great recipe.

Yep, it’s pretty straight forward – you can never be too prepared. However there are a few key things that I would recommend you plan ahead for.

  • Car parking – take notice of the key traffic times and the car parks that generally don’t fill up as quickly. Leave enough time so you can get a park and not have to run to class (I have experienced running with textbooks and a laptop and it’s not easy).
  • Lecture slides – most lecturers will upload slides and information before class. If you can, print these off or save them to your laptop in advance. Lecturers will often give important notices or address discussion topics at the beginning of class, so you don’t want to waste this time fumbling for slides.
  • A calendar – when you receive your USQ Wall Calender, mark in all assessment dates (including any online quizzes). This way you will be able to see if any courses cross over for assessment, and you can plan your study time accordingly.
  • Stationery – it’s a necessity. Sticky notes, highlighters, pens, sticky notes, staples, folders, sticky notes and sticky notes. Don’t forget stick notes.



Become part of the online community.

Well, you are reading a blog, so I am guessing you devote some time in your life to being part of an online community. So take advantage of USQ’s online spaces and use them to find help, find friends, learn about events and competitions and really become involved in the whole university experience. My personal favourites are Facebook’s Wednesday Motivation, and the Study Spaces board in Pinterest. (And USQ Blogs of course!). Here’s last week’s Wednesday Motivational:


Don’t be afraid to ask.

Okay, so lecturers can be pretty daunting, especially when they are called ‘Professor’ or ‘Doctor’. But you also have to remember that they are teachers. They have chosen to teach you! So don’t be afraid to stay after class and ask them a question (even if you think it’s a dumb question). Also, don’t be afraid to post a question to the online forum (this is a lifesaver the night before an assignment is due and 90% of the class are also wondering the same thing).

Well, I hope this advice has been helpful to anybody starting university for the first time. I wish all returning students the best for the year ahead, and when times are tough – just remember where your hard work is taking you.

PS. If you have any more questions or tips about uni please comment on this post!!!

Your Future: Here and Now

By the time you have finished reading this blog, you will know my secret. It’s not a bad secret, or one that is embarrassing. It’s a secret to success. It’s the secret to where I am today, and how I had so much fun getting here. Enjoy :)

It’s coming to that time of year when everything seems to be winding up. It’s nearly the end of semester (or term) and the ties start to get a bit looser, the sun starts to get a bit brighter and you know that the end is in sight. With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, who doesn’t love this time of year?

However it got me thinking, this time last year I was about to take the big leap into the unknown. I was about to finish year 12 and graduate from education as I knew it. I was about to enter a world of freedom, liberty…and working outside the school hours of 9:00am to 3:00pm, Monday to Friday.

Let’s face it, popular topics among friends included…Will I have a gap year? Will I go straight to uni? Which university will I go to? What do I even want to study? Will I move out of home?

Will I? What if? How come? Huh? Ohh…it’s too hard. What’s on this weekend? :)

However at this point in the year, contrary to my friends, I was hardly stressed at all. I had a little secret up my sleeve! No I wasn’t best friends with the OP fairy, I didn’t have enough money to purchase a degree off eBay, and I didn’t have a double identity known as Miley Cyrus.

Mine was a little secret I like to call…(drumroll)…The USQ Head Start Program.

Ohh, great secret Amanda, how is that meant to help me face life-after-schoolies? Well, I am going to tell you how.

I completed a USQ Head Start program between the summer holidays of year 11 and 12, studying Accounting for Decision making. I chose this semester because it DIDN’T EVEN IMPACT ON MY SCHOOL STUDIES!! (#winningatlife). What else is great is that I ended up getting a High Distinction in the subject!

However I am sure you all want to know why this program is a secret to success. My Head Start course was my secret weapon to my success in three ways:

Number One: Graduating from high-school with a future

At the end of year 12, when my friends were worrying about applying for university and hoping they would get in, I was sitting back and having a nice glass of satisfaction. By completing my Head Start course the year before, I had guaranteed myself entry into my degree (providing I met the pre-requisites), guaranteed myself a place at USQ, knew that I could move out of home and pay pretty cheap rent/expenses (and move back in for the night when I was sick of 2-minute noodles).

For me, this was great. I could graduate from high-school knowing that by putting in a bit of extra effort earlier, it set me up for life in a lot of areas. I even only put one preference on my QTAC application: Bachelor of Business at USQ (Shh don’t tell my guidance officer!).


Number Two: Bragging rights!

I’m going to be honest with you; it does feel pretty good (even now) to say, “Yeah, you know, I started studying my university degree while I was still in high-school. They paid the fees for me too. What of it?”

Okay, so I may have been a bit more humble in reality. However I’m not just talking about bragging rights to your friends, the completion of a Head Start course looks great on a resume and scholarship application!! So:

  • Bragging rights to friends/ teachers/family (obviously for pure gratification)
  • An awesome point for a resume – shows motivation, dedication and commitment. I always put the completion of Head Start as a key point on my resume. It not only shows that you were able to actually handle the work load, but it shows you took the initiative to do something extra. This could lead to work experience and a potential career. In many cases I have seen it become the foot in the door to the student’s future.
  • Looks amazing on a scholarship application = possible free money. When you apply for a scholarship at USQ, putting the completion of a Head Start course looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g! It shows you are interested in studying at USQ, and it proves you are above and beyond others of your grade.


Number Three: It helped me chose my career…in a rather unexpected fashion.

I was very ambitious in high-school (cough cough). I wanted to earn lots of money. I wanted to wear branded business clothes, and perhaps stylish glasses that only actually contained clear lenses. I wanted to own a big house and holiday at lavish islands. I wanted to be able to work anywhere in the world. And I figured the best way to earn money was to work with money. So I wanted to be an accountant. Hence, I decided to study accounting as a Head Start course.

Ohh, was I in for a shock. Apparently (even though accounting and economics are the only business courses offered at school) there are sooooooo many more courses offered at uni. There was marketing, public relations, HR, tourism, events management, GRAPE AND WINE PRODUCTION, etc.! What’s even better is that with a USQ degree, I could be earning lots of money, wearing branded business outfits and work anywhere in the world with any degree!  So I could actually choose a real degree, for me, with real career prospects.

Through doing the Head Start program, it opened my eyes to what the world really has to offer. Amazing lecturers, amazing careers, amazing research, amazing stories and an amazing degree.  In Year 11, I knew I was part of something much bigger than myself, by school, my city and my country. It felt pretty cool :)


So as I reflect on where I was this time last year, and think of all of those battling through your high-school years, I do have some advice:




These three points sum up what anybody in year 10, 11 and 12 should be doing right now and in the near future. In fact, anyone of any age that can learn from these things:

#beingprepared– it makes everything so much easier and gives you time to enjoy the good things in life.

#lookinggoodbecauseyourworthit – never underestimate yourself because it pays off to look good to the right people.

#openingdoorstotheworld  – possibilities are endless, so why not open the door if there is something great waiting for you on the other side.

For me, these three things are what the Head Start program is aimed at. And for hundreds of students each year, this is what the Head Start program delivers to them.

Don’t wait: your future is here and now.

I didn’t wait: and I can look back and say that I am living my dream.

Pride, Power and People

Well, week eight of semester is here. Hello assignments, hello exam revision, hello stress. Yes, everyone feels it at this stage in the semester. That feeling that you will never hurdle over the pile of assignments sitting in front of you. That feeling that no matter how many hours of revision is spent on a subject, the pages of notes will never suffice that required to pass…let alone do well. That feeling that the mid-semester break is just a few too many weeks away to aid in reducing current anxiety levels (hurry up holidays!!). I am sure that these thoughts are running through the minds of all students, well, they are certainly running through mine.

During one night of intense studying and research earlier this week, I stumbled completely by accident across Facebook…namely the USQ Facebook page. I found this hilarious suggestion at what studying really involves (ironic)…and  it definitely brightened my night! Clearly this graph is not accurate, as there is no section in this graph depicting the time spent thinking about studying. Nevertheless, I had to include this in my blog.

While I was looking at the USQ Facebook page (for research purposes – studying social media in a marketing degree is totally acceptable), it came to my attention that I could register to get a FREE USQ PHOENIX SHIRT!! (OMG free stuff, this requires further investigation). I followed the link to the website www.usq.edu.au/phoenix, and little did I know that this website wasn’t just about getting a free shirt, it was a lot more exciting than that…

The first thing I noticed when I opened the link was the banner at the top of the page stating “91.3% of our students go on to full-time employment or further study”. This statement shocked me! It made me realise that by choosing to study at USQ, I was placing myself in a very good position to actually get employed in my field of study. After all, isn’t that why we are all at uni in the first place? To get a good job, to get a better job, or to get a new job? It seemed like USQ was pretty good at ensuring their students are able to do all three.

After having a look through the various Phoenix web pages, I stumbled across some videos –  www.usq.edu.au/phoenix/videos – and particularly the TV Commercial (which I actually saw on TV the night after finding it on the webpage). I thought this was such a lovely TV commercial because it really shows what USQ is all about…empowering its students. Students go to USQ to become empowered with knowledge, with community, with guidance and with a career outcome. And I believe USQ exceeds at doing this. Well, if so many students are being employed in the workforce they have to be doing something right!

But back to the free shirt….all I had to do was register a few details and they will post my shirt out to me! It couldn’t be any easier J I also got to join the Facebook fans eagerly awaiting the arrival of their shirt! I will wear this phoenix T-shirt with pride, knowing that I am studying at a tertiary institution that is proud to have me as a student. I will proudly study at USQ, proudly graduate from USQ, and very proudly join the 91.3% of students who have achieved their dreams because of USQ. Bring on my shirt!

As I continued to study social media for academic purposes (aka surf Facebook) I found an event page of Phoenix Day – next Wednesday 12th September 2012. Phoenix Day, what the? Upon further reading I discover Phoenix Day is a celebration of pride within the university… for all of the staff and students…at all three campuses! There is going to be music, free food and activities for everyone. What an awesome way for USQ to kick of this feeling of pride, with a big celebration :)

Well, talk about a good study session. My notebook is full! My first note: PRIDE – 91.3% of USQ students go on to full-time employment or further study. Lecturers always love a few good statistics. My second point: POWER – as a USQ student I am full of power, knowledge, diligence, a sense of community…and more importantly….a wonderful starting point for my career. My last important note: PEOPLE – at Phoenix Day, USQ is bringing together people to celebrate our university.

PRIDE, POWER AND PEOPLE – I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I would like to finish my blog by thanking all of the devoted blog fans who follow the USQ students on their journey. We appreciate your support and we love to share Our USQ Story with you.


Welcome!!  :)

Well, this is the first ever USQ blog…being written by the first ever USQ blogger. It also happens to be the first ever blog this blogger has ever written! My name is Amanda Smythe, and I am a student at USQ Toowoomba. I am a first year business student…. and a part-time waitress…and also, now, a blogger (my resume is looking good).

A new semester is dawning and it’s time to start buying new textbooks, collecting miscellaneous pens and waking up before 11am again – all things which had been lost and forgotten since the end of Semester 1. Coming up with the enthusiasm to do such tasks, however, is pretty hard. I have found my only bit of hope in the realisation that my textbooks stacked together would be an excellent footrest (and/or small table for resting drinks) and therefore will get me through another four courses of study this coming semester in comfort. I think I am not alone in experiencing pre-semester-lack-of-motivation-for-study-itis. In fact, I think it may be a common symptom of the holidays. I have pondered on this new concept, and decided that there is surely a cure for the terrible disease which seems to have infected students across the nation.


After testing aforementioned cure, I have concluded that the suggested regime to cure pre-semester-lack-of-motivation-for-study-itis does definitely not efficiently cure the disease. However, further testing may be required.

After failing to gain motivation during the quarantine and chocolate-eating process, I turned to other methods. I decided to go on-campus during Orientation Week in order to find some inspiration.

The first thing I saw was this sign. A clear indication from USQ that they are happy to see their students again!!! Yes, this little sign brought bright, yellow sunshine to my day (ps. it also happened to be raining this day). I continued my adventure through the campus buildings, only to find more inspiration….

Ohh how much the sight and smell of coffee in The Hub Café reminded me of studying in the USQ Hub. It has helped me through so many hours of assignments, so many lectures and tutorials, and so many days of not feeling like doing either. Once again, my motivation was rising and I started looking forward to those days again. I ventured into the Hub Café (possibly with the intention of purchasing coffee), and the building was buzzing with Orientation Week excitement!! There was live music (see below picture) and friendly faces at an information booth (see the picture below the below picture) – all bubbling with happiness and bright coloured hair. To me, a student diagnosed with pre-semester-lack-of-motivation-for-study-itis, this was very strange for me. Perhaps it was….USQ fever…

The final stop upon my journey was a group called ‘Community Building’ (see picture below). Until my journey this morning, I never even knew this group existed. However, as the brightly decorated sign caught my attention in the middle of The Hub, I had to find out more. I am so glad I did. This small voluntary group meets with people within the USQ community to make them feel more welcome, especially those with international backgrounds. One member said they aim to engage these fellow USQ students in “meaningful conversations to build the sense of community”. WOW!! If this group wasn’t enough to motivate me to return to my USQ Community and get stuck into my textbooks…then nothing would!!

So as I write this blog, and count down the days until classes begin, I can safely say that I am ready – and even excited – to begin study again. Have I now caught the ‘USQ fever’??…it’s possible. But most importantly I hope that I have shared with you a little bit of inspiration to cure you from a case of pre-semester-lack-of-motivation-for-study-itis.

Lastly, I would like to thank you for being part of the first blog, by the first blogger, of USQ. I would love for everyone to read, share, like, comment, re-blog, print, re-read, post the link, save the page…whatever you have to do to let everyone know about USQ’s new blog. Most importantly, I would love to hear…what you want to hear. Comment and let us know what you would like our bloggers to talk about!! We are all students, just like you. We are all at USQ, just like you. And together, WE ARE THE USQ COMMUNITY. Help us make it great.