First-year Experience

Transition From High School To University

Academic Environment


In university, lectures and tutorials often occur 1-2 times a week. All the responsibility falls on you to get to class, take notes and ask questions.

Independent learning outside of class

In university, one hour in lectures or tutorials usually requires two to three hours of study on your own.  You may be given a reading list but you also have to search for relevant materials in the library. 

Assignments and evaluation methods

Assignments are not as frequent but may be much longer. Group projects are also common. They are often set 3-8 weeks prior to the deadline. While showing your understanding of the course materials is still important, you need to demonstrate more analytical skills and critical thinking in your coursework. 


Failing one test in high school typically didn’t have too much effect on the overall grade. However, this is not the case in university. Most tests, essays and projects are worth a large percentage of the overall grade, making good exam preparation, class attendance and good study habits throughout the whole semester are essential for success. 


Your high school teachers might have reminded you of deadlines and provided one-on-one help after classes. University professors expect students to take charge of their academics. You need to follow the syllabus and textbooks and be proactive to contact the tutor or lecturer if you require additional help.

Campus Environment

Personal freedom

The sheer amount of personal freedom you are going to have can be very overwhelming. You may find yourselves a lot of spare time. Learn to manage that wisely. 

Social life

Much of a freshman’s time will be initially devoted to meeting and mingling with new classmates, roommates, club/committee members and professors. There may also be new distractions and temptations, such as alcohol and sex. Knowing your priorities and core values will help you allocate your time and get through any tough situations that may arise.

Extra-curricular activities

We highly recommend you to participate in extra-curricular activities as they promote your all-round development and prepare you for future challenges. This can include anything from sports and clubs to community service programmes and internship and exchange opportunities. It can offer a rewarding experience and will help to battle any stress or homesickness that you might be experiencing.


Beware The Freshmen Pitfalls

The transition to university can be rife with pitfalls. Be prepared for the common stumbling blocks that many freshmen encounter, and learn what you can do to lead a fruitful and enjoyable university life.

Skipping Class

Attending class is a must, even in the early morning! Unlike in secondary school, if you skip a few classes, you would easily fall behind before you know it. Go to every class to keep up and demonstrate your interest in the subject to the professors and lecturers.

Poor Time Management

It‘s tempting to procrastinate when you have all the time in the world to spend and no one is watching! Keep track of how much time you spend on Facebook/QQ/Snapchat, surfing the web, playing computer games, socializing, exploring the city etc. Remember to prioritize and plan ahead for studies and assignments starting at the very beginning of school term!  

Overlooking Key Resources

Talk to your tutor, professors after class (Don’t worry, they won’t bite! And most often, you’d be surprised how glad they are to address your questions); go to the library and other learning centres such as CILL, ELC and MLSC.