Skip to main content

The biggest differences between high school and university

News story

The jump from high school to university is an exciting one but it can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not prepared. Here’s a list of some of the biggest differences between high school and university so you can know what to expect before you start.

Attendance is important but not always compulsory. Lecturers and tutors won’t always take attendance, so it can be really tempting to skip classes. However, attending all of your lectures and tutorials is the best way to stay on top of your work so you can have a successful semester.

You’re in charge of your own schedule. In high school, you’re typically given a fixed timetable, but at university, you’ll be required to organise your own timetable for the units you’ve chosen for the semester. As well as registering your own classes, it will also be your job to make sure your timetable fits around your work schedule and transport options.

The number of students on campus is significantly higher. University campuses are a lot bigger and busier than high school campuses and you’ll be part of a diverse student community. This can be overwhelming at first, but being exposed to a wide range of people from all different backgrounds will introduce you to new ideas and ways of seeing the world.

There’s a lot of homework and it’s your job to do it. While there are generally fewer contact hours at university compared to high school, you’ll be expected to spend more time doing homework and independent study, so it’s important to be self-motivated. Try drawing up a study timetable early on in the semester, so you can prioritise and manage your weekly workload.

You have less one-on-one time with teaching staff. With less contact hours, you may not get as much individual attention from your tutors as you got from your teachers in high school. If you’re having trouble with your work, it is okay to ask for help. Contact your tutor to arrange a time to speak with them if there’s not enough time in class.