So, you’re in year 12 and you’re thinking about going to university. You’re probably being spoken to about university from every institution under the sun about how great they are and why they are the one for you. They’re telling you about stellar graduate attributes, the pathways to get into Medicine, why their campuses are the bees knees and how year 12 isn’t the be all and end all of you getting into the degree of your dreams.
Yeah, see, this is great but they’re not actually telling you anything you need to know. All the information you’re being provided with is fantastic and, don’t get me wrong, could even be (shock horror) somewhat interesting- even though all your cynical mind is thinking is “why are we not getting time to study and have to attend this, I already know what I want to do, I’m going to study X degree at Y university.” It is great to know that the University of Adelaide boasts the alumni of Julia Gillard, Howard Florey and Shaun Micallef and it’s also nice to know that you can only study Speech Pathology at Flinders, but, what about when you actually get there?
Fast forward a few months. Congratulations! You’re graduating. You never have to listen to Michael Buble and Elvis one after another ever again. You’re off to university soon. This is what you should brush up on. Oh, and, STOP STRESSING IT’LL BE FINE!
Where is everything?
Well, that depends on your university. Adelaide is central and I 100% recommend studying there but, then again, it’s the only university I have ever experienced studying at. As a general consensus, there is always someone ready to help fresh students on campus at any institution- they’re usually overly excited to see you too! Ask students in the year above who you know but kind-of-don’t-know-too-well-and-are-scared-of as people are genuinely quite good and will help out a stressed out high school graduate.
How do I know if my degree is for me?
If you’re doing it because
A) You’re parents want you to study X degree
B) It sounds good/impressive, or
C) You want to make Mr Burrows proud,
you’re at university for the wrong reasons. I cannot stress how you need to be passionate about what you’re studying. University is incredibly self-motivated and, if you don’t want to be there, you won’t go. No one is going to chase you up and no one is going to prod you with a stick to keep you moving along. You’ve got to do it yourself. I have found this challenging as if I don’t have a goal to push towards, I won’t push. I want to study abroad next year and now that is my goal to push me through on higher scores than Credits and Passes. Rule of thumb: if you’re four weeks in and you’re bored, GET OUT! YOU are paying for this degree, make it worth the HECS Debt.
I can attest to being doubtful about choosing the right degree- I dropped on of my degrees and am now completing a single degree with a large major. It wasn’t for me and it took about eight weeks to realise that (so now I still have to pay for some of a degree I’m no longer studying hahaha), but it’s your first year of university and it’s a learning curve. You might enter into the faculty of professions and end up in chemical engineering, you never know where your true passions lie until you begin to start learning about them.
If you really don’t know what you want to do come application time, take a gap year. Shock horror that I’m saying that (never been an advocate of gap years) but it’s the best thing you can do to clear your mind and experience what you are genuinely interested in. Don’t waste your gap year working away your weeks at Coles or Woolies. By all means, work and save your money but take some time to find yourself and really figure out what you love doing.
What if I don’t get the ATAR that I need?
Please please pleaseeeeee don’t worry about this. Once you’re in, you’re in. Universities offer internal transfers every semester and if you maintain a high enough GPA (grade point average) you can easily transfer into the degree you want. Just because you don’t get your first preference doesn’t mean you won’t get there in even a years’ time. If you want a high ATAR, that’s nice!! But it’s ok if you just miss the mark you intended. (Also, if you get 90+ please never ever complain about it).
Is the work, like, really as intense as my teachers stressed?
No, it’s not. This is also subject to the person you are and how studious you are but high school teachers make university seems, to be perfectly honest, horrible and soul crushing. I have never been in a class where you ‘need to read this 300-page book in one night’ or another scary story often told in classrooms. What IS intense is the quality of your work. Please DON’T reference generic googleable websites because it simply doesn’t cut it at university. You need to read journal articles and you do need to visit the library. That is the biggest step up but the workload, generally, has a tendency to marry up with year 12.
How do you motivate yourself?
This depends on you. For me personally, I struggle with motivating myself especially if the work isn’t something that genuinely interests me. I suppose the biggest motivator for doing work is the fact that you’re the one who is going to have the debt for the next however many years and that you’re the one footing the bill. I’m going to be about $25,000 in debt for most of my working life and I want to make sure I get the most out of what I’m studying so that the debt is actually worth it. Set a timetable and be realistic with it (you’re never going to work on Saturday nights after week 2) and try and surround yourself with people who lift you up and keep spirits high.
Are Arts degrees filled with the left?
Short answer, yes. I often regret adding an Arts degree to my Media degree but this is not directlywhy I left to pursuce greater work in Media. Arts degrees get unnecessarily political all the time. If you know me, you know the way I think politically and it really isn’t the same as 95% of the Faculty of Arts and often this leaves me sitting in lectures thinking something like I’d imagine ScoMo when Tony Burke gets up to speak during question time. Everyone has an opinion and the right to express that opinion and an Arts degree certainly brings out the most robust of opinions. I’ll just sit there like the infamous Michael Jackson Thriller meme, watching in silence and contemplating life.
How drunk do you get every week?
That depends on YOU. I haven’t been that way since New Year’s Eve where I welcomed in 2017 in a garden bed with a friend while messaging a guy I’d never met because she told me to. There’s a stereotype that all uni students do is complain about being poor while spending all their wage on alcohol. That’s probably about true for some but not all and it’s up to you how you spend your free time and how much you love (or hate) your liver.
Do you miss high school?
Yeah, shit, that’s something people don’t want to admit. I think it is fair to say you miss some elements of high school. There are little things that I miss (bludge lesson three lessons, Friday lunchtimes and that bond you get with staff in year 12) but then there are things I also don’t miss (Nutrition, masses in 35 degree heat, 6:30AM starts and NOT being able to walk across to Rundle Street for lunch). What is nice about university is that no one cares about the blonde hair you had in year eight or the fact that you hooked up with that boy in year 10- you have a sense of anonymity because everyone is too worried about themselves to worry about you too. If you make your senior year fantastic then of course you’re going to miss some of it but you can’t keep looking back when you’re being thrusted forward. Honestly, this can either be really easy or really hard. Just don’t wish your time away, please!
Do you still think about your ATAR?
You think about your ATAR until week one of university then all that hype melts away. If you get 90+, you forget about your ATAR after the DUX assembly where you’re recognised. IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE, STOP ASKING. Also, don’t do the Adelaide thing and ask “what school did you go to?” to every person you meet- it gets old and 90% of the time, if it’s a boy they’re from St Peters and if it’s a girl they’re from Walford.
Adjusting to being a university student can be challenging as it is very independent and a shock to a system used to schooling. But, it’s incredibly fun, individual and entirely what you make it.