On Campus

Your high school teachers are wrong

Five reasons why university is a happy place

For some unexplained reason, lots of high school teachers describe university as a scary place. Sometimes, after assigning a ridiculous amount of homework, they’ll say something like “I’m just getting you ready for university.”

Yeah, sure.

Why not have a bulldozer smash half your house off before a tornado strikes, just so you’ll be “more adjusted to it.” You know, in case it ever happens.

There is a lot of work in university, but here’s the part your high school teachers aren’t telling you: for a million different reasons, university is way better than high school.

Here’s the top five:

5) You set the pace

How much homework do you have in university? To a certain extent, it’s up to you.

On the first day of classes, most professors give out a detailed course syllabus. There’s a list of readings and study questions, which help prepare you for the midterm and the final. In some courses there aren’t any assignments, essays, or research papers- for the whole semester, you’re preparing for two major tests.

Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound like a good thing. It might seem a bit scary to have your entire mark resting on two tests, but it gives you a lot of study flexibility. In university, you’re given lots of tools to succeed: in addition to a detailed schedule of readings, you’re often given study questions and practice quizzes. When you’re preparing for a midterm or exam, you’ll know exactly what you need to do, and you’ll know when you’re ready.

This might sound extremely lame, but in university you’re given a formula for success. There are a certain number of steps you need to take- reading the textbook, doing the study questions, looking over the practice quizzes- and then you’re ready.

4) Bully teachers are a thing of the past

In high school, everything depends on your teacher. It doesn’t matter if you normally love a certain subject: if your grade 12 biology teacher is a bully who decided on the first day of class that she simply doesn’t like your face, or the way you exhale, you’re not going to enjoy biology very much that year.

In university, things are different.

Sure, there are lots of professors who are worth seeking out because of their enthusiasm and engaging teaching style, and there are some professors who should be avoided at all costs because they’re boring, or make it clear they’d rather be anywhere else but standing there in front of 500 first-years.

But unlike in high school, your professor doesn’t determine whether you love or hate school. You’re an anonymous student in a sea of hundreds and hundreds of first-years. It’s never personal.

3) University is a safe-haven for nerds

In university, there’s room for everybody. If you want to party, there are definitely plenty of opportunities available. But if you’d rather study and get good marks, nobody will hold it against you.

2) Four months of summer vacation

May, June, July, August. Seriously, I’m not kidding.

Sure, most of us have part-time jobs year round, and full-time jobs during the summer. But four months away from school is still four months away from school.

1) Three day week? Totally possible.

In high school, you don’t have much control over your schedule. Once you’ve filled in all the mandatory courses, you get to choose between visual arts and music.

University is completely different. Depending on your program, you still have a certain number of mandatory courses. But there’s even wiggle room when it comes to these core courses: you can often choose between a one-hour lecture three times a week, or a three-hour lecture once a week.

And the rest is completely up to you.

University gives you a chance to pursue your interests and passions, with a range of courses spanning dozens of subject areas.

Or, if you’re anything like me, you can score a three day week.

In my first year, I managed to cram all three of my labs and my physics, chemistry and biology courses into a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule.

Of course, university is an opportunity to expand your horizons and challenge your ways of thinking. But why not expand your horizons while maintaining a three day week? Just something to think about.

And in later years, there’s always the possibility of a two day week…

-photo courtesy of dave_mcmt

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