Student Life

Navigating the Transition from High School to University

There’s no doubt that beginning university is an exciting time. If you’re an undergraduate straight out of high school, university may be a gateway to your chosen career path or a place for you to work out what you want to do.

Amid the eagerness and anticipation, it can also be an overwhelming time for many students. You’ve gone from being at the top of the student hierarchy in high school to a nobody among the crowds. Here’s our best advice for navigating the new world of university.

Attend O-Week

‘O-Week’ or Orientation Week is designed to aid the university transition for newly enrolled students. Most campuses have week-long programs that include social activities, tours of campus, information sessions and events run by campus clubs and societies.

Current students are often designated to facilitate the events; for this reason, O-Week is a great opportunity to get your bearings and meet some people before the real work starts.

Plan Your Time

Unlike high school, your lecturers will not dictate how much study you should do each week. At the beginning of each course, you’ll be issued with an course outline or guide (sometimes referred to as a course program or tutorial guide) that gives you a clear indication of how much time you should be spending on your coursework; however, very few lecturers will request weekly submissions of homework. And unlike high school, your parents won’t be called if you fail to submit your homework!

This new freedom is liberating, but be careful that it doesn’t all go to your head. If your name is on the enrolment form, you are the person responsible for your education. Dedicate sufficient time to study, as well as socialising.

Join a study group if you need some accountability. Find a study location that give you the best chance for productivity, such as a quiet place on the grounds or the campus library.

Ensure you attend compulsory lectures and tutorials. Find out how many absences are permitted each semester and don’t exceed that limit because it may jeopardise your completion of that unit. Repeating a university course doesn’t just delay your graduation; it can become a very costly exercise!

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Gone are the days when your teacher will wander around the classroom to check that you’re underway on your assignment.

You’ll soon find yourself sardined into lecture theatres that contain hundreds of other students. You may never have a face-to-face conversation with your lecturer, unless you initiate it, since your tutorials are most likely to be run by tutors, not your lecturer.

So, be proactive! It’s important that you seek help if you need it. Ask the library staff how to reserve books, attend free information sessions (such as workshops on essay writing or referencing) run by your university’s learning and teaching centre, familiarise yourself with essential services (such as IT support, student services and amenities), join social groups and meet people.

No One Asks about Your ATAR

It’s true. Although a lot of your energy has been focused towards attaining that magical number, few (if any) people will ask you about it.

For this reason, university is a great opportunity to reinvent yourself and start anew. Embrace this new season of your life. Your university days are just beginning, but be warned: they are fleeting.

Feel free to continue the conversation in the comments section below. What advice would you offer to a student making the transition from high school to university?

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