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The biggest differences between high school and university

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Two female students sitting on hammocks at The Hammock Hotel on campus.

Coming from high school and straight into university is a big change and you might be wondering: what is the difference? The biggest realisation most students have as they start university is: you are in charge of your education now.

Firstly, welcome to the next chapter of your adult life!

And secondly, here are a few of the biggest differences between high school and university:

Types of Assignments

In high school, assignments are straight forward and designed to keep a student on track based on the lessons provided in class. In addition, teachers ensure that their students are on track with homework, and they’re working at the same level as the rest of the class.


In university, assignments are varied and encourage critical thinking. These assignments would also tend to be more thorough, spread out and focused on independent learning. Most university assignments also involve group work that encourages students to work collaboratively and explore different point of views on the topics of the assignment.

Lecturers will not be regularly following up on assignment progress either; students will be expected to turn in their work by the allocated deadline.

Teachers vs Academics

High school teachers are trained to teach you important subjects and fundamentals that build over time. They are also more hands on when it comes to ensuring their students are on the right track. They work with students when they fall behind and schedule one-on-one time with parents to discuss their progress.


Academics are given classes based on their area of expertise. Professors act as mentors with that help you advance in your career and prepare you for a future in your specific field.

The friends you meet

High school friendships shape your younger self. The friends you make in high school would be from people in your hometown and often grow up with you.


The people you meet while studying at university will come from a range of different backgrounds from across the country and all over the world. This gives you the opportunity to broaden your mindset, learn from each other’s differences and challenge your own way of thinking.

More ways to get involved

Not every high school offers student clubs to nurture your passion outside of your studies.


University provides you the chance to create communities of your own or join existing ones on campus. You will be exposed to a wide variety of clubs, including social and academic focussed clubs, a wide range of sports both uni-wide and inter-university and the ability to join the Student Guild.

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