Disclaimer: This is purely from my own experience. Other uni students may have had a different experience and, in turn, feel differently from what I have written.
Next year all of you current Year 12s will probably walk into university having already built up an expectation of what it’s going to be like. You would have based it around all the stories you’ve heard from your siblings, what guest speakers told you at those ‘Get ready for uni’ Year 12 assemblies throughout the year and those typical teen college movies (and let me tell you now, the biggest misconceptions lie there). In those expectations you will find that some of what you expect are true, but a lot of it isn’t. Here’s the reality:
IT’S A LOT OF WORK
When my sister told me that the amount of content covered in several weeks of classes in high school equated to the amount covered in one 55-minute university lecture, I thought she was exaggerating. Unfortunately, this was one thing that turned out to be true.
In the first week, the lecturers are quite understanding and move at an easy-to-follow pace, lulling you into a false sense of ‘hey, this isn’t too bad, I can totally smash uni!!’. These hopes will be duly crushed in the weeks following where the lecturer’s sympathy runs out and they begin doubling the amount of content covered in one lecture and tripling the pace in which they go through it.
You will find yourself in a race against time to take down notes before the lecturer moves on to the next slide, and trying to learn ten new concepts that were introduced in the last five minutes while still struggling to grasp the topic that was covered last week. Quite frankly, each class is like an attack of knowledge that you are also expected to spend hours to prepare for and revise afterwards.
(To put it in another perspective, it’s only six weeks into the university year and the students around me are on the same level of ‘done’ as they were in the last few months of Year 12 after 13 years of schooling.)
THE DEADLINES ARE ABSOLUTE
Unlike high school, university is unforgiving when it comes to deadlines; there is no negotiating around them unless you are in a predicament on the scale of being on your death bed.
Whether they’re assignments to be submitted in person or online, any tardiness will be penalised. If your tutor wants a worksheet done by the end of the tutorial, you must hand it in at the end of the tutorial or else you will get a zero. There is no, ‘I didn’t quite get to finish everything today, is there any chance I can hand it in next time?’. The days of getting little extensions from understanding teachers are over. And if you submit your online assignment even as little as one second late, it will be detected by the system and you will lose marks because of it. Brutal, I know.
Moral of the story; try to get your assignments and assessed material finished as soon as possible. Avoid the stress of doing it last minute and uploading it with 0.1 seconds until the due time to spare.
IT’S NOT EASY TO MAKE FRIENDS
Now I was lucky enough to go to a university with a rather small campus, meaning it was easier to get to know people and befriend them. However, this is not the case for many students who attend large campuses where it takes no less than 15 minutes to navigate from one class to another. With the course structure also a contributing factor, this makes it quite difficult to make and maintain friends. Some people you may only see for one hour every week, making it hard to establish close relationships with them or converse about topics outside the realm of uni and schoolwork. Sure, you may find yourself added to group chats on Facebook, but they’ll mainly be centred around helping each other with assignments rather than anything social.
This is not to say that you won’t make friends at all, it is just a little harder because you no longer have that helping factor of seeing and being in the same classes with the same people every day, something that made it inevitable in high school that some close relationships would form.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN LEARNING
You’ve probably heard that in university you are no longer spoon fed anything, and this is very true. No lecturers will slow down for your sole benefit or go over another example for a concept that’s confusing you (you’ll have to organise a time to see them outside of class). There is also expected preparation to be completed before each class, however it is not checked by the lecturer/tutor, so it’s up to you to finish it yourself. It is also your responsibility to remember deadlines for assignments and quizzes, and to check your email regularly which usually fills up with important announcements in no time.
The learning environment in university is definitely not as intimate as in high school; the lecturer doesn’t know your name and you probably don’t know the name of the person sitting on the other side of the room. You really are on your own, unless you actively seek out guidance. This can be as a simple as making a group chat with friends so you can remind each other of important deadlines or help each other with difficult coursework. You can also email lecturers directly or contact student services.
EVERY DAY IS NOT A PARTY
Okay, well this may just be me being my unsociable self. I was never really a party animal or anything along those lines, and I’m always too tired after both being at and commuting to and from university to do anything afterwards.
However, there are plenty of university events going on both around campus and at night such as cruises and balls, movie and karaoke nights. There’s probably a university event every night so really, every day can be a party if you want it to be!
Now after reading all this I can feel your excitement for university dissipating (in which case, I am very sorry, that was not my intention). The reality is...I left out a whole lot of other terrible things I could comment on for the sake of the length of this article which turned out to be really long anyways. Jks! (not really)
But in all honesty, university isn’t as bad as I probably made it out to be. There are some pretty great things about it, such as having more free time because you’re not required to be there for six hours every day. Sometimes, you can only have one lecture scheduled for the day (that you’ll end up skipping), leaving the rest of the day free for you to spend how you want it. The sense of independence you gain is also pretty great, as you begin to have more responsibilities to yourself. And I also can’t forget the random free sausage sizzles that pop up around campus every second day.
All in all, university is definitely a new ball game; it’s riddled with challenges but, if you can overcome these, it can be pretty great.
Written by Anna :>