From school to university

Expectations and change management

University expectations often differ from reality. Many students expect a seamless transition, and do not bother to inquire beforehand how lectures and exams will be organized, how programmes will be structured, or what kind of learning will be required of them.6

In fact, you will not be in class every day, all day long, in the same venue. Attendance will not be taken daily, you will mostly be able to choose your courses and sit your exams in the available sessions. There will be no regular tests on individual syllabus subjects, but a final assessment several months after the beginning of the course.

Dealing with change

There are many opportunities for you to explore – you will play an active role and will be more independent than in high school. While many freshmen enjoy their newly-found freedom, some have trouble adjusting and can feel isolated.

You may think other students are more at ease, but the truth is everyone feels a little lost initially, as with any major change from the known to the unknown.

Life is constantly changing and you have to learn to adjust, as change is the heartbeat of growth.

How many times did you experience a big change in your life, something scaring or unpleasant, and later realized it was positive?
There are no "good" or "bad" changes per se. It is up to you to turn them into negative or positive experiences. You have to identify opportunities for personal growth in any change, even if unexpected, and develop new resources. No matter how good you are at managing change, it always involves stress, and when you feel overwhelmed by stress, you can experience discomfort – as a new student, you can have doubts and uncertainties.

However, you will get over your worries as soon as you know your way around.

Personal relationships

You may be shy when dealing with other students or teachers. Making new friends can be stressful.

As you will see less of your school friends and family, classes and extra-curricular activities can be a good way to find new friends. Just think that all freshmen probably feel like you and are eager to make contact. You will realize you are not alone and you can share your experience.

Once you make new friends and you are in the loop, you can easily adjust and manage stress.


New students may feel ignored by university teachers and not dare ask for advice in case of difficulties with any subjects. Relationships with university professors are not the same as with school teachers – they will not be looking for you or ask you if you have any troubles.6

As a grown-up student, you will have to come forth if you need advice or further explanation, and they will always make time for you, in class or during office hours.