From high school to university
>Having spent all their lives moving a grade up every year and
learning to gel in with the new environment, teachers, etc., students are still
not prepared for what awaits them as they enter their respective universities.
The change is much more drastic and most students are caught off guard. As
Adeena, a student who started university a few months back, says: "You realise
that the opportunities that were just handed to you at school now have to be
worked for or created."
Aug 2008: In times like today, everyday is a new challenge that brings with it changes
that one either learns to adapt to, or fights hard to resist. Nevertheless,
there are some changes that come with time and affect us with greater intensity.
One such change that students today face is the transition from high school to
The primary reason why many students face a dire
need for adjustment is that before joining university they prepare themselves in
accordance with the schemas they develop about university. These schemas pertain
to the academics, faculty as well as the student body and campus life. Most of
the times, these images are created using input from two basic sources; media
and films, and the websites and brochures for universities.
today portray university life to be fun-filled with a few hiccups here and
there, where every entrant is easily able to find his path and discover his
calling. Whereas in real life, this couldn't be further from the truth as
universities don't provide students with a readymade life plan and everyday
proves to be a consistent struggle. As Saaim, a recent university graduate says:
"Thanks to all the movies I watched, I imagined university to have more of a
social outlook with a lot of parties and stuff so I didn't take my first
semester very seriously and because of that I ended up with a lousy GPA in the
first semester."As far as the admissions material of the universities is
concerned, it paints a rosy picture and one discovers the reality only upon
entering it. "Before I applied to universities for admission, I researched about
them through their websites and naturally, I developed certain images in my mind
of how university would be like. But upon actually joining it, I was caught off
guard to see so much that was inconsistent with what I had in mind," says
Sultana, also a university student.
Students are led to believe that they
will be taught by the finest of teachers at university. They expect a very
professional approach from them. But when they find out that in reality,
starting university does not guarantee any such professionalism, it once again
shocks them. While some teachers might be experts in their field, it is not
necessary that all of them will be equally good.
When at school, students
can depend upon their teachers as well as parents to remind them of their
responsibilities and guide them. They are corrected when they are wrong and
advised and counselled when needed. But at university, students are expected to
take responsibility for what they do and don't do, as well as for the
consequences of their decisions. They are required to be self-sufficient and
capable of dealing with matters on their own. Initially university students find
it difficult to move from the relatively cocooned environment of schools, to the
rigorous university lifestyle.
At university, students have to learn to
prioritise and make their demands, meet with their own efforts. They have to
learn to get what they want and the various ways to do it. They can no longer
count on being given something just because it is their right, but instead have
to make an effort to achieve it.
At school, students are usually told
what they need to learn from assigned readings whereas at university, it is up
to the students to read and understand the assigned material, because teachers
proceed with the course under the assumption that the students have already done
University students initially face a lot of problems coping up with
the heavy amount of workload as they juggle studies with the new found freedom
of no checks on them. It is hard for them to adjust to the fact that while they
could depend on the teaching within the class at school for a large part of
their studies, at university, they usually have to study more on their own than
they learn in class.
At school, a student is said to be doing well if he
is capable of reproducing what he is taught in class or solve problems similar
to the ones he was taught. Whereas at university, students are said to excel
when they are able to apply what they have learnt to new circumstances or solve
new kinds of problems. This kind of mental exercise expands the mental horizons
of the students and helps them think outside the box.
For many students,
starting university means moving away from home and for some of them it is the
first time that they stay away from home for long. The added pressure of living
alone in a new place, which can sometimes even be halfway across the world, can
also contribute to making the settling down process even more difficult.
Khurram, a Pakistani student who is studying abroad says: "Everything from
living on your own, to dealing with finances, doing laundry, or even finding
time for food is a lot of responsibility to digest in one blow. Not to mention
the adjustment required pertaining to academics."
Despite all the
difficulties that accompany life at university, it is said to be a time when one
learns most about the world and the people around. The experiences at university
are said to be unparalleled in creating one's character and molding one into
what they become eventually. As Saaim says: "University gives one a brush with
the external world, makes them understand what reality is and helps them stay
One walks into university to some extent as a clean slate and
leaves with markings of the experiences gained during the years spent there.
By Amena Jafri (Dawn)
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|Updated: 14 Oct, 2014|