Why university made me feel stupid

If high school had the same pace, you’d finish grade 12 in two weeks

My secret fear before I went to university was that I wouldn’t make the cut. That I wouldn’t be able to handle the academic overload of university. I knew first year wouldn’t be like the average high-school grade transition, where the material is a little more difficult, but doable. University is a total revamp of what you’re used to in high school.

The rules change.

Everything you learned in high school physics, biology everything is condensed into a perfect little packet of 12 weeks. Like astronaut food.

If high school had the pace of university, where you have five courses instead of four, not to mention some labs and tutorials, you’d finish grade 12 in about two weeks. I can’t believe I didn’t have perfect 100’s in all my courses. What was I doing with all that time?

I felt a little out of control during my first semester of university, that at any moment my fine balance of keeping up with the readings and completing assignments could crumple.

Then it happened. I fell behind.

My worst fear had been realized. I wasn’t keeping up. And it made me feel stupid. It seemed impossible that I would ever be able to juggle everything. How could I possibly be able to read four chapters of my chemistry and biology textbooks, while simultaneously completing my physics assignment and political science essay, all due next class?

Then I realized my problem. University isn’t 10 times harder than high school. It’s 10 times faster. It’s the pace that’s a killer in university.

I wasn’t being stupid. I was being inefficient. I needed a plan.

Using study habits from high school to prepare for tests and quizzes wasn’t working. Even how I approached the readings was all wrong.

I learned how to prioritize, university style. I started the readings right away, instead of procrastinating about it. I learned how to really focus. In high school, you can often get away with studying at the last minute and still pull off a pretty good mark. It doesn’t work that way in university. It’s not always how smart you are in university that determines your marks, it’s how disciplined you are.

My second semester was much better. You really do adapt to the pace and learn how to get so much more done than you ever did with that sloth pace back in high school.

Now the pace of university doesn’t scare me. I prefer it.

– photo courtesy of michellekopczyk