Surviving the transition to university can be smoother if you know some of the differences from high school. Here are 11 differences you’ll need to cope with:

1. No one to check up on your attendance

Skipping class can be highly addictive and hazardous to your GPA, but attending lectures and actively participating helps you learn the material and the prof’s focus.

2. Bigger classes, less attention

No one will know you’re floundering unless you ask for help. Take advantage of TA labs and office hours or find a tutor. Smile at the person next to you to find a potential study partner, or join a study group.

3. No spoon fed notes

Notes on the overhead just aren’t as clear as in high school days, so learn to take good notes.

4. Less in-class time, much more homework outside of class

High school classes often include time for homework and review. University assumes you’ll do the work (review, readings, lab reports, papers) on your own. Plan your time to include a bit of studying every day. And stick to your schedule! For tips, read how to choose your study area.

5. Harder academic work

You’re responsible for more material (and harder assignments!) in a shorter amount of time. Develop strong study habits now. Know your learning style and strengths. Learn to write papers and lab reports well.

6. More brain power required

Unlike many of your high school classes, university requires active use of your critical thinking skills. Understanding the “why” and being able to discuss the implications or significance of material takes higher priority than memorization and regurgitation.

7. Longer range assignments

Things can be due even months down the road! Waiting to the last minute can be disastrous. Plan ahead to keep up on readings/labs and start early on larger projects. Give yourself intermediate deadlines.

8. More electives to choose from

While you’ll still have core courses to take for your chosen major, for the most part (except for maybe Engineering) you’ll have more opportunity for electives. Take courses you didn’t even know existed when you were in high school. Discover what you enjoy. Be well rounded. Take advantage of practical courses.

9. More opportunities

University gives you more space and experiences to be able to get to know yourself better. There’s more extra curricular opportunities. Get involved on campus, meet new friends. Take advantage of any apprenticeships or internships available.

10. More freedoms and responsibilities, less time

On top of all the academic stuff, you’re now responsible for housing, food, laundry, cleaning, bills, money and social life. Learning how to prioritize and manage your time well is key to your adjustment and continued success. Read 10 Ways to Manage Stress in College.

11. More life learning

Develop a positive learning attitude. Though you may have had a “I know everything” attitude in high school, university is an ideal place to remind yourself there’s always room for growth.

College can be really tough. Whatever you are facing today, we would love to hear from you. Connect with a free and confidential mentor through the "Connect" tab below.




This article was written by: Justine Hwang

Photo Credit: Element5 Digital