The Differences Between High School and University

By University of Waterloo Modified on October 07, 2023
Tags : Academics | Campus Life | Community | High School

Knowing what to expect can set you up for success before starting your university journey!

The Differences Between High School and University

If you're a high school student thinking about attending university, you may have questions about what to expect. All these unknowns may seem daunting, but being prepared can help you feel more comfortable as you start to explore your options for post-secondary education!

You're responsible for yourself

University provides you with much more freedom compared to high school. You won't get a phone call home for missing class, so whether you attend your lectures is ultimately up to you. In some cases, lectures will be mandatory, and your professor might give out marks for participation. You should always try to attend your lectures so you can learn as much as possible.

The same goes for completing assignments. You won't be constantly reminded to complete your work, so it's important to develop strategies that will help you succeed. Managing your time and responsibilities will make sure you don't fall behind. Eventually, you'll be able to figure out what works best for you.

Each class you take will be different, but often, you will spend a lot of time learning outside of class. You will have readings and other material to learn at home, on your own. This might be difficult to adjust to, especially if you're used to only learning in class and completing homework and assignments at home.

Even though you'll be more independent when it comes to learning, this does not mean you don't have help or support outside of the classroom. Your lecturers will hold office hours which allows you to cover any questions you may have and helps you truly understand the material. Working independently doesn't mean you're alone!

You'll have more flexibility

University gives you a lot more flexibility. You won't have classes for a set number of hours each day, starting and ending at the same time each day. Instead, your schedule will vary — some days you might have back-to-back classes, and some days you might have no class at all! This flexibility gives you time to do whatever you like. Try using the time to get involved with clubs or sports, study, or catch up with your friends!

You'll also get a syllabus for each course you take. This means that right at the beginning of the term, you'll know what each week will look like. Compared to high school, where your teachers would share due dates with you as you're assigned tasks, university gives you a schedule to follow so you can know this information ahead of time. This includes knowing what topics you'll learn about as well as knowing the due dates for all the assignments and tests you'll have throughout the term. Syllabi are great tools since they can help you plan how to study or when to start assignments.

You'll meet new people

With so many students on campus, you're bound to meet new and diverse groups of people. In high school, most of the people you knew were probably from your hometown. However, in university, you'll meet people from all over the world. Meeting new people can be daunting, and making friends can be hard, but soon enough, you'll realize how valuable these interactions are. Not only will you meet new classmates, but you'll expand your friend group and make connections that will stay with you forever.

The transition to university from high school can be scary, but having an idea of what to expect will help ease some of your fears. The people you meet and the things you learn will make for an unforgettable experience!

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