Uni is a whole different ride to high school. The transition can be rough: you’re going from thirteen years of being told when and how to learn, to being thrown into a completely independent environment where it’s up to you to get anything done. Aside from not having to ask to go to the bathroom, there’s a tonne of differences between uni and high school.

1. Attendance

In high school you had attendance marked all day, every day. If you didn’t show up for class, it was noted by your teachers and your parents would get a call if your attendance rate was too low.

At uni, no one cares if you skip a class and it’s up to you if you ever actually want to show up for that 9am lecture (most don’t). Some classes will give marks based on attendance, and uni is damn expensive, so you might as well get what you paid for by actually showing up now and then. But the reality is, if you really want to spend the day in bed, no one is going to stop you.

2. Holidays

If you thought Chrissy holidays in high school was good, just wait till you hit end of year uni break. If you choose not to take subjects over the summer (most of us don’t), you’ll end up with a solid three months of holidays. On top of this, you’ll also have mid semester and study breaks; but you’ll probably need to use these to catch up on all the lectures and readings you’ve missed.

3. Your teachers

In high school you probably had your teachers looking over your shoulder all the time. They’d remind you when you had an assignment coming up and would check that you were doing your homework.

At uni, the main difference is that your lecturers and tutors don’t really care if you don’t do the work- it’s not them that will fail have to retake a whole subject if they don’t hand in an assignment or flunk an exam. It’s true when they say uni is an independent learning environment; you really won’t have anyone holding your hand.

4. Timetables

Say goodbye to the regular 9am-3pm timetable. Uni will give you a tonne more freedom and you’ll be able to construct your own timetable to suit yourself. Just make sure you enrol asap, so you can pick and choose the best classes before they’re full. Want to sleep in all morning and just head to uni in the afternoon? Go for it.

differences5. Friends

I’m not going to sugar coat it, making friends at uni is fucking hard. Campuses are spread out, lectures are filled with hundreds of kids and finding someone who gets you like your mates in high school isn’t as easy as you might think.

Don’t start freaking out if you don’t immediately make amazing friends in uni; you’re definitely not the only one and you’ll find plenty of new mates other ways throughout the year.

6. Cost

It’s no big secret that uni is expensive. In high school you could coast through with your free student travel and resources all made available by your teachers. Once you start uni you’ll find yourself forking out a lot more of your hard earned cash.

Aside from the obvious costs like textbooks and transport, you’ll probably start spending a lot more money on food. Plus, there’s the hidden costs like student amenities fees that no one tells you about.

7. You won’t be number one

This can be a tough part of the transition into uni, especially if you’re coming from a selective school, or are a bit of an overachiever.

Even if you were the top of your year in high school, it’s easy to get lost in the hordes of students studying at uni. The workload is bigger, the expectations are higher, and you might not thrive in the say way you used to. Don’t freak out if you find you’re not getting top marks in every class straight away- it’s totally normal.

8. Parent involvement

Say goodbye to having to hand over an end of term report to your parents, or enduring boring parent/teacher meetings. When you hit uni, your parents are basically out of the picture and there’s laws that prevent uni staff from disclosing info about your studies to your family. Don’t want your ‘rents to know about the exam you flunked or how you failed a unit? No one at uni will snitch on you.

9. Referencing

Remember the good old days when you could whack a couple of book references in a bibliography at the end of your assignment and call it a day? When you get to uni, you need to reference everything. You’ll experience the fear that comes with processing your essay through Turnitin and wondering whether you’ve accidentally plagiarised your entire essay and will be kicked out of uni.

Referencing has to follow the template perfectly, otherwise you’ll be docked marks. Plus, it’s worth noting that there’s no consistency when it comes to the style of referencing- some tutors will require Harvard while others prefer APA. Don’t get caught out accidentally using the wrong style because your markers won’t cut you any slack; it’s up to you to figure out what you’re doing (though if you do get stuck, most tutors will happily help you out if you shoot them an email asking for help).

10. Difficulty

Some people will say that uni is easy compared to the hell that is the end of year exams in Year 12. Others will say that uni is worse, and it feels like the stress it never ending.

Assignments are definitely tougher. At uni you’re expected to think more critically and there’s not as much leeway as your high school assessments. In saying that, you will probably have less assignments, as they’ll each be worth more.

In the end this one comes down to what and how you’re studying. Get some solid study habits in place and you’ll find your uni experience a lot easier to handle than the pressure of high school.


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