“Trust me, University will be so different from high school” is a sentence that I heard almost every week during my A-Levels, when I was close to applying to universities. “Different,” what a vague word, right? Some said it would be way easier because you have more freedom and can choose the subjects yourself. Others said that one exam would be more time consuming and more difficult than the whole A-Levels exams phase itself. I read so many scary things about university life, while also hearing about so many exciting university aspects that I was looking forward to. It will be one year soon since I started my first University semester and I thought I would use this article as an occasion to share my views about the differences between high school and University with you.
In high school, I spent around eight hours every day in class, unlike now, where I usually only spend three hours of my day in actual lectures. However, it is important to mention that even though I spend less time in class now, there is much more revision and preparation that needs to be done. Hence, there are additional hours spent in the library or at home, that were not needed in high school. All in all it is true though, that you spend a lot less time in class and can choose freely how you want to approach your preparations. The amount of free hours that I had all of a sudden was something that I needed to get used to. In high school, there were more obligations and less accountability since you were forced to go to school. In other words, university requires more responsibility, since it is solely your choice if and when you want to attend class or do your assignments – but in the end, all students find their own routine!
Unlike high school, where multiple subjects differed from Biology to English, Religion, Politics, Arts and more, there are less classes in university, since your studies are more focused on one specific area. Hence, there are less exams than in high school. Nevertheless, each exam requires much more hard work since each one is weighted on your grade heavily. The preparation phase is much longer and you need to figure out for yourself what type of learner you are. Before I went to university, there was no need for me to ask myself if I am more of an audio or visual learner. But now that one single exam consists of up to 300 pages of material, I am forced to figure out the most efficient learning technique for myself. In high school, there were more smaller tests, presentations and oral marks that influence your final grade. As a result, there are less consequences when you slack on a test since all of these smaller assignments serve as a kind of cushion.
Every soon-to-be university student knows the fear of not meeting new friends. But if there is one thing I can promise you, it is that you will most likely never have the opportunity to meet that many people at once again. There are opening weeks filled with parties and meet-ups, Facebook events, brunches, cooking nights, poetry slams, concerts, and other creative occasions to meet new people regularly. Especially the amount of initiatives that my university – and most other universities as well – offer was quite impressive. The associations cover all interests from politics, different kinds of sports, theatre, photography, music, charity work, finance, entrepreneurial ideas and more. From my experience, the events in high school were much more limited and there were not as many opportunities to meet new people.
As someone who always did pretty well in high school without putting too much effort into the exams, the transition was not the easiest. I needed to get used to the fact that the exams at university require far more effort and that it is not as simple to get really good grades anymore. But after some disappointments and a bit more experience, I really understood how university works. What made me grow most as a person was the whole process of being independent. University did not only mean an academic development for me, but also moving into my own apartment, meeting the most interesting new people and finding my own place at university with the help of initiatives and associations. If there is one piece of advice I can give to all of the soon-to-be university students, it would be that you should be open-minded and approach people. Everyone will have the same fears as you, but do not let them limit you, because university life will probably be one of the most carefree times in your life!
Do you have any advice to share with those starting university straight after high school? If so, leave a comment below or head on over to eduopinions.com where you can tell us all about your university experience by leaving a review on your alma mater’s page on the site.