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Blog: High School vs University

High School vs University – what you need to know and how you can adapt

The transition from high school to University may seem scary to first-year Tukkies. It’s okay to feel nervous and anxious, but these emotions won’t last long because before you know it, you’ll be all settled in.

In order to do well, you need to make the most of your new environment by simply embracing the change. You’ll discover just how open and accepting the University of Pretoria is.

Here’s a look at the difference between school and varsity and how you can make the most of your varsity years:

High School: You are constantly reminded by your teacher to finish any incomplete work and submit assignments on or before its deadline; which could sometimes get extended.

University: Nobody reminds you of upcoming deadlines. Lecturers are more open minded but do not check homework. You may not be able to submit an assignment that is overdue unless the reason is based on circumstances beyond your control.

What to do: As soon as you receive a timetable of your assignments with their due dates, paste it on the bedroom wall so that you will be reminded to complete them in time. You can also set a reminder on your phone a few days before due dates to ensure you have ample time to add any finishing touches.

High School: Classes are small and are limited to about 30 students. It is usually easy to ask your teacher any questions during or after class.

University: Classes are much larger and may consist of about 500 students, so getting a teacher’s attention is much more difficult.

What to do: If you do not understand what your lecturer has explained in class, and have studied all the textbooks and materials, ask to meet with him on a day he is less busy. This will provide you with a platform to ask any questions regarding the work you do not understand.

High School: Teachers provide a student with notes on classes they may have missed.

University: A student is expected to catch-up on the work they missed out on – how this is done is entirely up to you.

What to do: If you were absent, borrow a classmate’s notes to catch up on work you’ve missed. If you do not understand the notes, ask your friend to explain it to you or study additional and supplementary information online.

High School: Teachers jot down information on the board for students to copy into their books.

University: During a lecture, the lecturer usually stops talking when the period is finished. He does not tell you which notes to write specifically so you need to continue to write down notes throughout the lecture.

What to do: Listen attentively to summarise the information given to you. If you struggle to keep up with what is said, form a study group with your peers and meet after every lecture to discuss and exchange notes.

Remember, it is important to ask questions in class if you do not understand certain topics. You are also in charge of your timetable and should attend lectures regularly. If you feel you cannot handle the pressure, speak to one of the counsellors at school, to one of your peers, or a student in a year higher than yours.


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Last edited by Mark SiasEdit