Starting university and moving elsewhere leads to a lot of questions. There are a lot of blogs out there already about student societies, preparing to live on campus, getting prepared and organised before moving to York, part-time work, and exploring the city of York (just to name a few things I wondered about before starting at York). But what should you actually expect from colleges and the college system? And how does arrivals day work?
What To Expect From Colleges
There are eleven colleges at the University of York and, ultimately, you will be a member of one of them. However, unlike Oxbridge, at York, colleges are simply there for two things:
In the most straightforward way, to provide you with accommodation – every college has slightly different room layouts, designs, etc. to offer something for everyone.
But colleges are also there to give you a community, something to be a part of, simply based on where you live on campus. For that, each college has its own sports teams, its own little college societies and communal areas. Every college also has a slightly different welcome week arranged for you by a student committee and a different college team to reach out to.
For college events (e.g. formals, bingos), similar events usually take place in all colleges throughout the year. But each are unique to the college you are in (in regards to logos, decorations, mascots etc). However, it does not matter which college you are a part of because the university societies, university sports teams, and university events are available for everyone. In the end, your college is your home in the wider university community.
The Big Day – Arrivals Day
As the days pass by, arrivals day comes closer until suddenly, it is there. You will receive an email for the exact date for your move-in day and in previous years, you were asked to book a time-slot to spread out arrivals throughout the day.
When you arrive, you will not be alone!
There will be signs to point you in the right direction and people waving you to parking spots for unloading the car. As this can be a rather overwhelming experience, colleges try to make it as easy and friendly for you as possible. So, there will be people and signs to lead you to the right desks to collect your key and welcome bag. And if you have not bought a ticket for Freshers’ Week upon arrival, that usually is possible on the day as well.
Once you have everything you need, there are student volunteers with trolleys waiting to assist you and help you find your room. These student volunteers, all members of the college, will be wearing easily recognisable t-shirts all week during your welcome week and they are specifically there to help you settle in. So, don’t hesitate to ask for their help!
College staff are some of your most important contacts at uni – they will be there for you all throughout your time at York. Anything you share will be kept confidential and they will do their best to help you in whatever means possible.
In addition to staff, there are several student groups who are there to support you:
Second / Third Year Contacts (STYCs)
They help you out during welcome week, accompany you to evening events, and are there to ensure that you will get back to your room at the end of the night.
The Second / Third Year Mentors (STYMs)
They also help you during that first week, but in addition to that, they are there to support you throughout your first year at university. They can answer any questions or support you with any concerns you have.
In relation to any college events, college merchandise, and more, you also have your college committee which gets elected by students every year. They do their best to make sure that welcome week has something to offer for everyone and are there to answer all sorts of questions surrounding college events throughout the year.
Overall, your college will be there to support you from the very start.
The student volunteer scheme has personally really helped me settle in as I felt a little less lost in the college and city that became my new home. Whilst arrivals day itself felt really stressful and slightly overwhelming, having people there to show me to my room and help with all my baggage made the day easier. It also showed me that my college was there for me at all times and it continued to be there for me for the other three wonderful years of my time at the University of York. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have done!