Australian universities are increasingly influenced by the combined pressures of growing numbers of less well-prepared commencing students, reduced teacher-student interaction time, and an increasing focus on blended learning. Traditional teaching and learning approaches are proving less effective, and traditional assumptions about learner preparedness may no longer apply. This practice report notes some of the obstacles that traditional curricula present for non-traditional students, and explores ways in which curricula could better accommodate them. In particular, it examines expectations of commencing students as academic readers, and considers whether these are valid and reasonable. It compares current referencing requirements for early undergraduate assignments with those of the past, noting significant differences in both number and type of sources required. The practice report considers possible reasons for this apparent shift in expectations, and questions the assumption that peer-reviewed journal articles are necessarily the optimum, or even appropriate, starting point for commencing higher education students as academic readers.