We’re all told that uni is different to high school. There’s more independence and more freedom; no teachers looking over your shoulder telling you what you need to be doing and less pressure from your parents to get your assignments done.

There’s big changes- you say goodbye to your high school friends, land new jobs and try things that high school you never would. Sometimes, you might feel like you’ve got your head around it; that you’re on top of it all. But sometimes, you might feel like high school didn’t teach you anything about starting uni.

When I changed my uni course after a year, I realised what it was like to be thrown in the deep end. None of the content in my course had been taught in my classes, so I had no background knowledge of what I was studying. Everyone else seemed to get the content straight away, but I was always trying to play catch up. While my original course had been an extension of what I had learnt in school, I soon realised that the vast majority of uni students don’t have any solid background knowledge of the area they study in uni and it makes it tough.

High school didn’t teach me what to do if I hated my course or how I was supposed to persevere through. It didn’t teach me what my options were if I decided to change my mind or head in a different direction.

What else? High school didn’t teach me that making friends at uni is a little harder than you might think, especially if you’re a bit of an introvert like me. Everyone’s at different point in their lives, so finding someone who’s on the same page as you is kind of tricky.

High school also didn’t teach me just how expensive uni would be, and what some good financial strategies were, ones that would help me with how to pay off that debt. 

Is all of this the fault of high school? Nah, of course not.

I need to take responsibility for my time at uni (that’s kinda the whole point).

But the thing is, I went from having to ask my teacher if I could use the bathroom and allocated recess and lunch times, to being able to skip as many lectures and tutorials as I wanted. No wonder it was overwhelming.

Luckily, I know I’m not the only one, and if you feel like your missed out on University 101, it’s probably because you did- just like the rest of us.

Once you realise that no one really knows what they’re doing (especially in first year) you learn to breathe a little and stop freaking out so much over the little stuff.

You’ll settle in and find your place. You’ll make new friends, and get used to just going to pee whenever you want without permission from your teacher. You’ll become a pro at Harvard referencing and enrolment becomes pretty cruisey after the first year.

So, don’t freak out if you feel like high school didn’t teach you anything about uni life. You’ll figure it out, and soon enough, you’ll be able to watch all the fresh Year 12 graduates go through the exact same thing you did.

by Grace Barbic