What You Think Uni Will Be Like vs What It’s Actually Like

words by Year13

Here are a few things they don’t tell you in the graduation speeches:


High school exams are over! You are well and truly free. The world is your oyster! Never again will you be chained down by the bureaucratic shackles of the education system.

It’s a lie. It’s all a lie. HSC, VCE, final exams, whatever you had, they have just repackaged it and make you go through it all again every two or so months. Oh, was the final year of high school hard? Well that’s great and all, but now you have to do it again, and again and again–with the knowledge that if you fail you literally have to pay for your mistakes.


You’re going to stay in touch with everyone from high school. All your friends will hold hands till the end of time, skipping into the sunset eating purple, cotton candy glees. Like the American Pie movies, and especially the desperate last one, you will stick it out till the middle aged, nostalgic end. Plus, when you get to uni you’ll make a tonne of brand new friends because you’ll all have so much in common.

You’ll give up on trying to make friends at uni.

You might stay in touch with a handful or so of high school friends, if that. The ones you do stay in touch with will be there for the most part, but everyone else, well, that’s a different story. Occasionally, the odd person from the past will inbox you, or throw you a text, or maybe you’ll bump into them at a party. Either way, what happens is pretty much the same: you’ll catch each other up on the highlights of the past six months, reminisce about the good ol’ days, have a generally fun time, and then lose contact with them until this happens again in a few months. Rinse and repeat.

Spare time

You’re an adult now. You don’t have regular school to go to. You can swan in and out of campus, use your spare time how you choose, and answer to nobody and nothing. Live the life of those sit-com people on TV, and conveniently get up to shenanigan after shenanigan with seemingly zero financial pressure.

You’re an adult now. And adult privileges means adult responsibilities. You don’t have regular school to go to, but you also won’t have a regular job after if you don’t show up enough. Swan in and out of campus at your own risk. Life isn’t a sit-com. You need money for shenanigans. So really, you’ll be divvying up your spare time between work at a job that slowly chips at your soul one ungrateful customer at a time and study that enters one ear, and exits the other.

Going out

Hell to the yes. All night, every night. You are going to party like it’s 1999. No, not when you were born you silly millennial. Like the grown-ups did that thought the world was going to end as soon as 2000 rolled around. I know, but it was a pre-2012 world, and we’re now the wiser having been through seven false alarms. Mayan calendars be damned. But I digress. You are going to go hard, slam those shots, and turn your young, robust liver into foie gras.

Lock-out laws. Need I say more?
Okay, I totally will. You’ll start opting out of the raw deal that includes seeing how quickly you can pour your hard earned money down your throat before 1:30AM, and then revealing your darkest personal thoughts about inadequacy and failure to an Uber driver that just hopes you don’t throw up in his car. Instead, you turn to the old faithful house party. Fun, right? Maybe. There will be times when you’re sitting on the front porch of your mates house, next to a seedy dude named Lester, a friend of a friend who no one really seems to know. You stare at your Corona, praying to God that Lester doesn’t try to make a move on you, as the entire party of eight sits around the circle: one guy rattling off conspiracy theories, one throwing their guts up behind a bush another trying to scab a free drink since all his are already gone.


Knowledge will be endowed up thee like dressing upon a salad, rain on the fields, or ever life upon an egg. This is where you will be consumed in a cocoon of learning, and emerge years later a worldly, intelligent butterfly, but not horrific or scary-like.

You know how Ikea has that DIY option, and the instruction manual is this indecipherable booklet of diagrams with the occasional sprinkling of Swedish text? Yeah… it’s like that. Unlike high school, primary, or pre-K, the people in charge of teaching you really don’t care if you do the work, or pass, or whatever. It’s ultimately up to you to make the effort in learning. DIY learning if you will.

So yeah, good luck with that. Live up high school, your gap year and your holidays while you can, you’ll never be as free again.

by Garry Lu@tianabrownrigg