8 Myths and Facts About Starting University

By Western University Modified on July 31, 2020

Be prepared for university by understanding how it will differ from high school.

The beautiful, sunny campus of Western University!

Written by Western University fourth-year Medical Sciences student Youmi Dickson

Ready to start your first year of university? Here are some myths and facts about the differences between high school and university.

1. You're just a number and your professors won't know your name

Myth! There are many opportunities to get to know your professors and they're often eager to talk to you. You can introduce yourself before or after class to ask a question or attend their weekly office hours by appointment or drop-in. If your classes are mostly online this year, many will have forums and messaging systems that allow you to engage with your professors and classmates virtually.

2. University learning is more independent

Fact! It is your responsibility to attend classes, take notes, study and complete assignments. You'll find there is less hand-holding than there was in high school. But, you're not alone. Academic Support and Engagement provides skill-building techniques, workshops, presentations and mentoring to support you and help you succeed.

3. Classes in university are larger than in high school

Fact! Class sizes vary by program and year of study, but you can expect most university classes in first year to be bigger than what you had in high school. For example, at Western the largest classroom on campus is North Campus Building 101 with 789 seats.

4. If you want to succeed academically, you have to give up your social life and extracurriculars

Myth! Courses will be demanding. But it's possible to balance a social life, part-time job, extracurriculars, and classes by learning to study effectively and manage your time. Some of the most successful students are those with strong communities built through clubs, sports, leadership, mentoring and more. Western Student Experience provides support to help you thrive during university.

5. The university environment is extremely competitive, not welcoming or supportive

Myth! While many university students are working towards future academic goals, they know supporting and encouraging one another can help them succeed. Western has many study groups and peer mentorship programs to help you transition to university.

6. There are easy courses anyone can take for a 90+ grade

Myth! Think about it this way, would Beethoven and Einstein take the same elective courses for an easy grade? Absolutely not. Some students have a natural aptitude for certain subjects over others, but it's not the same for everyone. The best way to set yourself up for success is to find elective courses you are truly interested in learning about. Usually that means you'll be more motivated to go to class, you'll find the content engaging, and you'll generally do better.

7. Your schedule can be different each day of the week

Fact! In university, you can have class as early as 8:30 a.m. or as late as 10 p.m. and you won't have the same classes every day. Some programs will have flexible schedules and timetables and you'll get to choose your classes. For example, you may get to choose between an early morning calculus class or evening.

8. You spend less time in class in university

Fact! Don't be fooled though, less time in class doesn't mean less work. For every hour you spend in lecture, you can expect to spend two to three hours on your own completing readings, studying, and working on assignments. University courses cover a greater amount of material in a shorter amount of time, so it's important to attend all your lectures and tutorials.

Good luck and have a great summer!

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