5 Things: They Don't Tell You About University

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I am currently two and a half years through my degree at university, so I feel like I have some sort of idea on what happens at a higher education. I have decided to compile a short list of some of the things that I have learnt about university that I wasn't aware of when I was in high school and especially as it's the time of year where applications and portfolios are being sent in, courses are refined and campuses are being selected; now is the perfect time to share my tips with you all


1 - Do your homework
A lot of classes give out 'readings', which are chapters in a textbook that are necessary to read and learn for the next class or for your big assignments. These readings help give you a wider perspective on the topic you're being taught, as well as being a requirement to your essays and reports that you are expected to write up for your class.

If you are an art of design student, most of your classes will be studios, where you spend almost all of your time working on your final projects. Your tutors expect you to do around the same amount of time on your projects outside of class as you do inside. In my first year I thought that they exaggerated this, but I have since realised that the more time I spend on my work, the better it is and the better your grades are.

2 - Teacher's aren't your parents
A lot of lecturers and tutors aren't that fussed if you don't turn up to class, or if you don't do your homework. You're not going to get a letter sent home or a slap on the wrist. You have chosen to go to university, which means your (university) life is your responsibility. There is also a positive spin on this, if you are feeling unwell or sleep-in, or you have a work commitment, there is a lot less fuss made if you are late or can't get to class. Just got to remember how much you are paying for this education, so you gotta make the most of it!

3 - Get a job
In New Zealand, most of us are lucky to be able to get a Student Loan from the government to help pay for our class fees and we can get an Allowance each week to help pay for rent, utilities and groceries. However, this isn't quite enough to cover everything, no matter how much we kid ourselves that we can survive off noodles and white bread. Getting a part time job is entirely necessary, even if it's flipping burgers or pouring petrol, money is money and bills need to be paid. Student Job Search is a really handy website, connecting employers to students. Saying this, there are a few courses out there (law, architecture and medical) that simply don't allow for any spare time outside of class as the course load is so big. If this happens to be the case, there are some businesses out there that need full-time employees during the holidays, or casual work every so often during the semester.

4 - Get some sleep
Studies show that young adults need on average 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep (although a lot can last on 6, or even need more than 9). In saying that, a regular sleeping schedule, going to bed and waking around the same time every day is what makes or breaks sleeping patterns. This may seem very "motherly" of me, but sleep is just. so. good! This coincides with my point of getting homework done, so that when hand-in or exam time comes in you don't end up staying up until the early hours of the morning studying or completing projects.

5 - Clique's stay at high school
You know how at high school you have the Populars, the Nerds and all of those tight-net groups of friends that you only spend time with? When you get to university everyone is on a fresh start, meaning the social ladder or food chain is essentially nonexistant. But the thing is, cliques don't really form at university there's certainly a firm group of friends you stick with, but there's just so many people doing the same course together that you end up having friends in all of your classes. The whole social atmosphere is a lot more comfortable and everyone is just pretty chill at university, we've all grown up and cliques just aren't a 'thing' any more.

I hope these tips are helpful and don't intimidate you too much while thinking about applying for university. If you are already at or have finished university, what have you noticed that you hadn't quite expected? I'd love to hear what you guys think about university or college!

- Louise x

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  1. This was such a great and helpful post Louise! Definitely gave me a lot to think about xx

  2. Some great advice here, Louise! I believe the point about sleep is definitely one that needs to be emphasised. As a first year student i've found adjusting to the juggling act of a massive work load, work commitments and squeezing in other times for socialising, exercising or just relaxing .. it's just too easy to find yourself getting less and less sleep (especially suddenly having to be up and ready at uni for 8am lectures) when at this busy time you really should be getting more! I believe sleep should also be the priority over cramming for tests, too. Things have to get to long term memory somehow! I have some friends who didn't do as well as I think they could have in finals, and I can't help but suspect it had something to do with staying up all night studying during exam period.

    I don't completely agree with the last point, but this is due to personal experience- I think i would agree that cliques aren't really a thing at uni (though for me i didn't see them as a thing at my high school either).

    From a local student living at home perspective, i've found the social can be quite intimidating due to the majority of students being in halls and knowing people from there. However, like you said, everyone is chill and usually everyone is friendly and it's easy to meet people and make friends if you commit and kind put yourself out there instead of sitting back. I don't know where i'm going with this! I guess if you are a local not in a hall, don't feel set back for not being in a hall because if you are friendly and put effort in you will meet heaps of new people/friends. Any sort of "locals" uni organisations/groups are also good to get involved in - especially during orientation.

    This has turned into a wall of text so i think i shall end it now hehe

    1. Oh my gosh, I completely forgot to reply to you Jemma!

      Thanks for the comment! I completely agree with the sleep thing aye, I'm currently doing a project at uni about sleep deprivation and how we all know that we need sleep, we just never really seem to DO it! Sometimes we forget how important sleep is when we get caught up with cramming or socialising.

      I guess not all schools had the cliques that I experienced, but when I was at high school everyone had their own group of friends and sure some people floated between groups, but what I noticed not a lot of people were "in" more than a couple of groups, they all just kept to themselves.

      When I was a freshman, I didn't get into the one hall our university offered, but we had a programme that allowed non-hall students to hang out and become friends, which is where I met most of my friends! I'd also highly suggest going to orientation activities, because they're there from the university to help people bond and make friends, even though it's scary and "icebreakers" can be lame, it's a good conversation starter!