4 steps to transition from High School to University

student sitting in front of laptop

One of the many struggles first-year students expedience is coming to grips with the differences between tertiary and high school education.

One of the many struggles first-year students experience is coming to grips with the differences between tertiary and high school education. It can come as a shock when lecturers are more critical of your work, require more engagement during class and expect independent study. But like anything in life, preparation is key. This means talking to students in your course and on campus about their experiences with lecturers, demanding workloads, part-time employment and student loans. Talk to friends and family too, making sure they feel included in this exciting new step in your life and that they are aware of how much you value their support and encouragement. One of the very first things you should do when you arrive on campus is familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Walk around and identify the buildings relevant to you, to avoid getting lost on your first week. Take part in the campus tour, library tour and if you are new in town, even the tourist tour so you are familiar with the campus and your classrooms and feel part of your new community. It is important to know what is expected of you when it comes to academic work. As a new student, you want to be open and confident when it comes to making a good first impression with your lecturers. Be a proactive learner, participate in class discussions, submit work on time, ask questions and communicate your thoughts and ideas. It is also important to remember that every student is different, and learning occurs at different paces and in different ways. Don’t doubt your capabilities or deem yourself stupid if you struggle at first.


In university and/or college, most lecturers will remind you of deadlines and touch on how many hours of study you should be doing. But it is your responsibility and yours alone to decide how many hours you dedicate to study, and how you go about meeting deadlines. Organisation, prioritisation and multitasking are key if you want to excel in your degree. The most important thing is not to rush things, and don’t expect too much from yourself too soon.

Here are a few steps to help deal with change:

1. Take a look at what has worked in the past

If your strategy for dealing with major change has worked in the past, then continue to go with it. If not, examine why it’s not working in this situation. This could include reflecting on the way you study, deal with making new friends or cope with being in new environments.

2. Consider new strategies

While you can rely on tried and tested plans of action, this might be a good time to explore other options that might help you manage your current circumstances better. Talk with friends and family members to find out what strategies worked best for them during university or other big events in life in your quest to discover what’s best suited to you

3. Create a new plan

Once you’ve reviewed all your options, you’ll need to craft a plan. Select specific tactics for study, socialising and balancing commitments that you’ll employ consistently so you can successfully transition to your new routine.

4. Put your new plan to the test

Of course, there’s no point in having a plan if you don’t implement it. Keep in mind not every day will go as you intend and you may need to make some adjustments. If you encounter hiccups along the way, you can talk with someone you trust (perhaps a long-time advisor or mentor) to provide objective opinions to help you make necessary changes.


Article written by Rosanne Arcadi, Associate Degree of Culinary Management

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