The top 3 things I learned about university that are different from high school

Monday, November 7, 2022
by Simran, AFM Student

My name is Simran, and I’m a first-year student at the University of Waterloo studying Accounting and Financial Management (AFM). As a high school student, I wish I had a more in-depth idea of what to expect transitioning from high school to university, especially considering the pandemic that took over a big portion of my high school experience. Here are the top 3 things I learned about life at university that are different from high school!

Simran standing in front of the University of Waterloo sign in front of Dana Porter library

Work is done at your own pace 

In high school, teachers have more time for one-on-one discussions with students and provide a guided learning experience. At university, most work is done at your own pace, and independently from professors. Essentially, learning is done at home, and “class time” (lectures, seminars, and tutorials), is used to supplement your understanding of what you’ve already learned, and a great time to ask questions.

Don’t worry! Making new friends is inevitable!

In high school, it's common that the kids you go to school with are people from your middle school or elementary school. However, when you transition to university and are surrounded by strangers, making friends can seem daunting. However, with the help of different frosh and o-week events, it's almost inevitable to make friends in your faculty or program because everyone is in the same boat - trying to meet new people and make new friends!

University timetables are not a 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

The last thing I learned from transitioning from high school to university, is that a university timetable is not restricted like the 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. schedule most high schools have. Instead, many classes are spread out throughout the week with a mix of lectures, tutorials, and seminars!

I hope this is helpful to any high school student thinking about applying to the University of Waterloo this fall!