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August 31, 2011 / uniexpectations

Facts for new uni students

Our project is starting to move into a new phase, we now have some results to share and have started getting our results out to S.A. schools and Universities. We want to be able to share information with school students to help them feel more prepared for the differences between school and uni study. There have been some surprises in the first round of data analysis, as well as some results that track along as expected. Here’s what we are telling new uni students….



Almost 90% of new students expect to perform as well or better at university than at high school but only half reported that they did. One in five students said they performed much better than they expected.

Three-quarters of commencing students have unrealistic expectations about how much time they expect to study. The recommended amount of study for university subjects is 10-15 hours per week per subject (including class time). This is equivalent to a full time job.

(The things that helped me were..) “To plan homework, assignments well in advance and to always be organised. Also to attend all lectures and tutorials – this helps to gain all information needed to complete each assignment with success.”



Whether you’ve come to university straight from school or not, you will need to be active in learning new skills and adapting to a more independent learning style.

“Learning to study and function independently. Took a long time to get used to not being looked after like at school. Also hanging in there and not just giving up. Completing a year of study changed my outlook a bit as I felt like I had achieved something and that I could finish this degree. There was light at then end of the tunnel.”

 Over 70% of continuing students report that the standard of university work is different or extremely different to school work. Over 2/3 of new university students still believe that their university teachers will provide all the materials needed for their learning, but in reality you will need to learn to source information yourself.

“Having good independent time management skills, knowing how to research properly (e.g. use databases) and having friends and social groups are all important for making my university experience successful.”



Attending classes is important for your learning, not surprisingly, over 90% of university teachers believe that students should attend all classes, but students also support this with over 70% of students indicating it was important for their learning to attend all classes.

Learning to find a balance between uni, work, social life and family commitments is important in your first year. Many students (73.8%) expect to be able to combine study and work in first year but the reality is that only 51% are able to do this.

Outside interests are important and can help balance study and personal life, but take care that outside activities don’t negatively impact on your results, 45% of continuing students agreed that they had outside commitments that negatively affected their learning.

“It was important for me to try and find a balance between university, work and my social life. …if I have a balance I wont be rushing assignments and adding stress.”



Many new students underestimate how much they relied on support from their teachers at school. Over 80% of new university students had unrealistic expectations of how much time teachers will spend preparing, assessing and teaching classes. You may not realise it, but university teachers have complex roles which include research and conference attendance in addition to their teaching.

It is up to you to seek out support from the services available at university, this may also include fellow students. 80% of new students agree it is important to have a close group of friends for support at university. If you need help, talk to someone about it, one-quarter of continuing students said that talking with university staff helped them to decide to continue at university.

“Making friends within the first few days of orientation – Important to have that support from the beginning. I know many people who have dropped programs just because they did not make friends from the beginning.”

Feedback on drafts of assignments is generally not given in the first year, although 95% of commencing students expected feedback on drafts, only 27% of students actually received it. Therefore you need to seek out extra feedback if you need it or are struggling with the skills needed to complete an assignment.

“…asking questions about things I was unsure about so that I was better able to understand what was required of me.”

We will be sharing more data results soon! We would love to hear your comments about these results. Leave a comment below or email us on:


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