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Future study

High school vs University

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study, High school to uni
Students at CDU waterfront Campus

Making the leap from high school to university can be like Harry Potter moving from his cupboard underneath the stairs to the Hogwarts Castle. Going between two completely different worlds!

It can be a bit tricky to get your head around how university works – right from the enrolment process, to taking the initiative to attend lectures, and keeping up with the study modules on Learnline.

The good news is that at university, you are treated like an adult. You are responsible for driving your own success, allocating your time and most importantly getting the balance right between study and life!

But seriously, what’s the real difference?

There are some key differences between high school and university, and we’ve simplified them for you here.


High school



Compulsory – and if you miss roll call, you need a note from your parent or guardian.

You are free to come and go from campus at any time. Most of the time, attendance is not taken in lectures, but often is for tutorials. Attendance and active participation in these activities is a strong indication of your future success at university.

Class hours

Your timetable is fixed and determined by the high school.

You take full responsibility for arranging the timetable, enrolling in classes, and organising your study plan (don’t worry – we’ll help you out with understanding how to plan your units).

Types of assignments

High school assignments are usually straightforward with clear direction and structure.

At university, the types of assignments vary and are designed to encourage critical thinking and independent learning. Most study takes place outside of the classroom.

Scheduling and prioritisation

Even though you may not realise it, teachers play a massive part in helping you prioritise your workload. They check on homework and remind you of assignments and due dates.

You are in control of your workload and managing the priorities of each study area. Lecturers and tutors are open minded and helpful, but they do not check up on if you are following the course readings. This is exciting, giving you a lot of independance, however could be the biggest adjustment you need to make to succeed at university


Once you’ve raised a problem with a teacher, they will report it to the school principal.

You’ll first need to raise any issues directly with your lecturer (or the relevant area). If that doesn’t work, you can take it further with the Student Advocacy team. They’re here to help you with any problems you may have with the university.


There are often free counsellors at high school.

You have access to a range of free and confidential student support services.

Differences between a lecture and a tutorial

Lecture: is normally held in a large room or lecture theatre with many students and one lecturer. You are required to take notes throughout the lecture. These generally take place before tutorials.

 Tutorials: Consisting of smaller groups of students, they provide a forum to discuss and debate the lecture materials. There’s an emphasis on class interaction and active participation.

If everything seems a little bit too overwhelming when you first start studying, Student Central is your first port of call. We can answer almost all of your questions, or point you in the right direction. We’re here to help, there’s no problem too big or too small.

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