Photo by Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

Starting Uni: What is it Really Like?

New Beginnings Aug 22, 2022

Transitioning from school to university may very well be the biggest change you’ll ever make. It may be daunting but it is also incredibly exciting! So, what should you expect?

Classroom Environment

The role of university lecturers and professors is largely to provide students with a framework and the skills from which they can explore their academic subject, while high school teachers both teach and ensure that work is completed. There is one crucial difference between the two: no one tells you what to do at university. Mr Randy Vener, Deputy Director of Admissions at The American University of Paris talked about how some first-year students react to the challenge of being responsible for their own study schedules.

"There’s a look in the eyes of many first-year students as they adjust to so many changes in their first few weeks with us. Many can’t believe their luck that there’s no one saying, ‘do this paper by tomorrow,’ or ‘read chapter three tonight. This kind of freedom can go to a student’s head, but good students recognise that they need to set their own targets and work consistently and steadily to ensure that they keep up with the pace of university studies. It’s all about maintaining a balance between studying and living. "

Teaching styles

The lectures in university offer only a basis from which to understand a particular subject, they do not cover the entire syllabus like in high school. It is merely the tip of the iceberg and the real content comes from independent study and discussion with either your peers or in tutorials with your professor. Another major difference between university and the school classroom is the amount of time receiving face-to-face tuition. First-year students typically spend 12-20 hours a week in classes. This leaves them with plenty of free time- a lot of which should be invested in preparation, research, labs or other undertakings to enrich your academic experience. All universities now offer study skills support, which helps in adjusting to the new way of teaching and learning.


Most students worry that they won't be able to make friends but the truth is that nearly every student is in the same boat as you. Very few first-years know anybody at their uni, so they're likely to be experiencing the same worries as you! Enrolling in extracurricular activities such as clubs, societies, and sports teams will help you make friends easier!


If you're worried about missing home, it's alright! There are strong support systems at every university, as many students are going through the same thing! It is a big adjustment and it takes time! To prepare for the change, you can start by practising routines that you'll need to follow in uni. For example, you can start with a meal plan: prep all the ingredients during the weekend and try your hand at cooking during the week before you head to school or after you come back! Chart out a plan for what dish you want to cook and when. You can also start doing laundry, go grocery shopping and begin budgeting.

For more helpful resources you can click here.  


Tara Nair

A level student, bibliophile and aspiring psychologist.