University is not high school. In fact, the two are not similar at all.

No matter how early you get to your lectures, you may still find yourself sitting on the floor for 50 minutes. Even the lecture halls that accommodate approximately 800 students will not always have enough seats for the number of students who show up to a lecture. Hardly anyone will know who you are, and the friends you plan to sit next to may get lost in the crowd.

In school your timetable is structured by your teachers, in university you make your own timetable. You might be able to choose later classes, depending on your course of study and enjoy a sleep-in after a late night out. However, there are drawbacks to not having a structured timetable such as not having scheduled “recess” times. This means you may find yourself attending lectures from 7:30 until 17:00 without a break. Alternatively, it could mean that some days your lectures are spread out and that you have a couple of hours to kill between lectures. It can be tricky to figure out what to do with this time, which is why it is essential to find your ideal relaxation and work place on campus.

In university as in school, classes are compulsory. However, the classes are much larger in university and if you were to miss a class your lecturer would probably not notice. Take care when the classes have attendance registers or have regular clicker tests. If you fail to submit an assignment or write a test without a sick note, then you will receive 0% for the assessment. Making sure that your academic activities are completed is completely your own responsibility.

It could take some time to get used to completing online assessments. You may be in a faculty where there are many online assessments per week, so learning how online assignments, tests and submissions work should come relatively quickly. One program that is universal to all faculties is Turnitin, a plagiarism checker. This means that the easy (and illegal) “copy and paste” technique that you may have been fond of in school will simply not do. Anti-plagiarism training is available at the Merensky library, directly across the Humanities building. If you are unsure if what you’re doing constitutes plagiarism, consult with your lecturer.

The workload in university is much larger than at school. Between the late nights of working and partying, and the naps which are essential for survival, your body clock tends to get confused. This is a normal and universal struggle of students.

Photo: Tshepo Moagi

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