Tak kenal maka tak cinta. Jom Kenali Universiti Awam (UA) Malaysia.

Friday, May 30, 2008

5 Huge Differences Between School and University

Written by Josette

Ever since I was a kid, maybe around 7 or 8 years old, I’ve dreamt of entering university one day. That’s because my older sister got into university and my family and I followed her there on the first day. I was mesmerized by the whole place. I thought that only the smartest people in the whole wide world only got to study at such a huge place. Do bear in mind that I was a naive 7 or 8-year-old clueless kid at that time, so like I said, I wasn’t that smart yet. =)

Well, I still cannot believe that last year, I got accepted into the same university as my sister! And boy, was I taken aback by the differences I encountered there. Believe me, uni is not anything like school at all. Let me introduce to uni life now.

Difference No. 1

The lecturers won’t spoon-feed you like how your school teachers did. On the first day of class, you’ll only be given the course outline and the reading list. After that, you’re supposed to find all the books in the list by yourself at the library.

I was lucky this semester because the required readings were already available. The photostat lady was there outside my class, so I only needed RM40 to buy the photocopied readings that were already put together and stapled neatly.

Well, my sister said she wasn’t as lucky as university students are today. Last time, it seems that they had to read everything themselves and there was no one who would explain anything to them, it seems. But now, we know how many units we are supposed to take, what courses we have to go for, etc. Everything is prepared ready for us. It’s just up to us, the students, to take the initiative to study hard!

But back to the main topic. Some lecturers won’t care if you don’t attend class or if you attend class late. However, if you missed 3 classes, then there’s a chance that you’ll be barred from sitting for the exams. And if you attend class late, then you’ll have missed what the lecturer covered earlier. They also won’t care if you understand the class or not. It’s up to you to go up to them and bombard them with questions. Some lecturers are happy when students ask questions. It’s a pity that most students choose to stay quiet when the lecturer asks, ‘Are there any questions?’

Difference No. 2

Your timetable will be messy. Unlike school, your classes will be scattered throughout the day and truthfully, I hate it! I really miss those normal 8 am - 1 or 2 pm school hours. Now, my schedule goes something like this:

9 - 11 am – Class
4 – 5 pm – Tutorial
5 – 7 pm – Swimming
12 – 1 pm – Tutorial
5 – 7 pm – Class
8 – 12 pm – Class
8 – 10 pm – Class

Thursday and Friday are the same. Scattered classes throughout the day. Actually, mine isn’t so bad. There are some people who have classes the whole day, maybe from 9 am until 8 pm with one-hour breaks between classes. Yeah, that’s crazy, I know, but I think they are students from management school or the science stream people.

Difference No. 3

You’ve got to be more independent in university. No mummy to cook you home-cooked meals every day. But if you live near home, then lucky you. If not, you’re stuck with the cafeteria food although some stalls are not that bad. If you don’t want to eat at the cafeteria every single day, you can opt to go to the coffee shops outside the uni, if there are any. They may not be home-cooked but it’s something different at least.

Some students probably have to do their own laundry for the first time when they go to uni. It was quite fun to go to the bathroom and there are people there scrubbing and cleaning their clothes. Yeah, you’ll get backache but you need clean clothes, right? If you’re too lazy to wash your clothes by hand, you can use the washing machines! Yes, there are washing machines but you have to put in coins for it to work. It’s RM2 for one wash. But, I have a friend who doesn’t wash her clothes at the hostel but brings them back home to wash at the end of the week. Ah, the smell!

Difference No. 4

At school, you’ll meet your classmates every day and then get to know them easily, right? At uni, you won’t get to know all your course mates in the first semester. That’s because there are so many of them and you won’t meet them every day. It depends on the courses all of you are taking. Maybe you’ll meet some people more often than others. So, basically, you’re meeting new people almost every day until you won’t be able to recall their names. I only got to know some course mates in my second semester. I’ll try to get to know the rest next semester.

It’s unfortunate that the students still prefer to stay in cliques, like Chinese students mix more with their Chinese friends, Indians with their Indian friends, and Malays with their Malay friends. I would really like to see everyone mixing with everyone. There are some people who do mix around and good for them!

Difference No. 5

In uni, you’re in charge of your own life! Nobody, and I mean NOBODY will boss you around or nag at you. Your parents won’t be there to wake you up in the morning, they won’t scold you if you go online for hours, nobody will force you to go to your room and study, etc. Well, if you have friends who are bossy and force you to study, it’s good because then, you’ll actually study.

If you don’t study, you won’t be able to participate in tutorial classes and then you won’t know how to answer during exams too. If you go online too much, you won’t have time to study. It’s easy to get lost in cyber world because there are free Wi-Fi spots all over campus. But do make sure you spend your time wisely. Don’t get too caught up blogging or chatting on MSN because then, you’d have wasted time that you should have spent on studying.

Another thing: assignments. Your lecturer will give you assignments probably around the 1st or 2nd week of the semester. Then you’ll have to hand in the assignment around the 10th week. So you’ll have about 8 weeks to do research and write out your assignment. Unfortunately, most people (I’m not sure if it’s most people or not but so far, it’s MOST people) only start doing their assignments one week before the due date, which is not very good. Because then, your assignment won’t look good as it’s last minute work and the lecturer might give you a C+ at most.

Therefore, it’s better if you get started on assignments early as you’ll have other things to do throughout the semester, for example meetings to attend, group presentations to prepare, and lots of other things that’ll take up a lot of your time. In short, you’ll be busy.
So…how was that, huh? Did I enlighten you on life in uni? My experience may not be the same as other undergraduates’ but it’s quite general and you may expect something like this when you’re there. Anyway, it’s fun because you can join lots of exciting activities, clubs, societies, and then you’ll meet lots of new people, some you may like, some you may not like so much, etc.

But the most important thing is, you’ll experience new things. You’ll learn a lot from your courses, your activities, your friends and your lecturers. You will learn to stand on your own two feet. University really prepares you for life. But then, don’t forget to enjoy yourself while learning hard at the same time!

Related Posts:
6 Things You Should Know before Stepping Into Local Public University
Orientation in University Utara Malaysia (UUM)
First Year Experience in University Putra Malaysia (UPM)
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  1. Ok, I think my course's lecturers were pretty strict by then (I'd graduated last year). One of my lecturers sat by the door of our lecture hall 5 minutes before the lecture started. Then, she used her eye to 'scan through' who had skipped the class, once you were not in for 15 minutes after the class start, you would be considered absent. And 3 times absent lead to 'life sentence' - she immediately barred that student from sitting final exam. So, you are done!

    And for the time table thing, I once had a terrible semester, when my Mondays and Thursday were in hell! I'd class from 8am to 7pm WITHOUT any breaks for Mondays and 8am to 5pm class with an hour break on Thursday. How I wish by then the semester end quickly!

    And for the food, it'd be cheaper eating in campus rather than out campus, but food is not bad.

    Yeah, definitely agree for the messy time table, and the long reading list, not just one, sometimes two reading lists. For the same course.

    Another thing, I think I was in the author's sister's era. As all my reading materials were in the library, so, please dig it out by your own, quoted from one of my lecturers. And the assignment, we had plenty, that due in two or three weeks times, so no 8-week sweet time for us...

    We had to learn a lot by then, but look back from today, the knowledge and skills taught really helpful, in the sense that, my course mates are all prepared for different requirement of the challenging job market.

  2. TMY SAY hihi..
    i am a matrik student.. i had finish my course this year..now i waiting for the uni offer letter..
    i heard my friends say uni life is not tat good as wat ppl always say.. "u don need to scare if u manage to uni in to uni"
    after i heard wat u have say i was quite scare.. the time table we going to arrange ourselves?many question come out from my mind...
    We must participate in co-curiculum ?


  3. TMY: I hope you get the course of your choice! And why would uni life be not good? We can't always listen to what other people say...have your friends been to uni before? If they haven't, then they are not the ones to listen to.

    You'll be experiencing uni life soon, so you be the judge. You will then know if it's nice or not. If it's not nice, well, just be thankful that you're there while some people can't even get a place in any uni.

    As for making your own timetable, no worries! It's not that difficult anyway. All you need to do is make sure that your classes don't clash.

    You don't have to participate in extra-curriculur activities(clubs, societies, etc) if you don't want to or if you don't have the time. It's not compulsory.

    All the best to you and I do hope you enjoy your uni life! Don't worry too much!

  4. c.h.tay: My sociology lecturer chased away students who came in 10 minutes after class started. I think he might still be doing that now! It's good because then, there wouldn't be any latecomers who make grand entrances and disrupt the lesson. He made it clear that if we can't make it to class early, then we should not bother coming in at all.

    Wow, your lecturer knew every student in her class? Not bad! Classes are now so huge that some lecturers don't know who's who.

    I do agree that your Mondays were indeed terrible! You must be so exhausted after 7 pm! Luckily I haven't had such a day. Yet. In fact, I don't ever want one! Haha!

    Thanks for commenting on my post. =) I'm always happy to hear about other people's experiences in uni!

  5. Hi Josette, glad to share my experience here. That 10minutes thing, I admit I was in a 'very strict' course, as I'd once in a tutorial class that late for 1 minute means you got zero for that particular tutorial, and no more entry into that class. But I agree with you, strict discipline is good. This will build up the student's characteristic and good habits.

  6. To TMY, Co-curricular activities is not a must in USM (at least during my time, before I left 2007). You can take foreign language courses to replace the credit hour (we called it 'unit'). Yeah, right, you need to arrange your time table, but another main reason my time table was packed in a few semesters was because I was greedy, taking many courses at one time (as our fees was fixed, not depending on how many credit hours you took, but I heard from my friends, it's different in other universities, so, survey before you take additional courses.)So Josette, it's my own fault to make my time table so packed! But my thought by then was, what's wrong to learn more? So... but only that semester had that terrible Monday, others were okay. For TMY, don't worry, once you enter, you will find a way to suit yourself in the environment. Although uni didn't seems that glamorous as I thought, but I really enjoy my 3years of campus life.

  7. Josette: Ya i really hope i will get my course.I choosing Accounting at UM for my fist choice. Usm for my scecond choice (accounting).

    I heard from my senior (they share with us their experience in Uni during our orentation ). I don noe whehter they trying to cheat us o try to encourage us to work harder in Uni .. They say if compare with matrik life with uni life. Uni life is totally different and tougher .They say uni ppl will look down on matrik student is tat true???

    In Uni also got orentation right..Can u share yr experience with me during yr orentation week... During matrik our orentation is really tough... Everyday we need to wake up when the sun have not even risen on the eastern sky... most of my friend collape..

    We only can stay in the school hostel for the first year right.

    Thanks for yr help n i really appreciate it..Wish u all the best n good luck!!

  8. C.h.tay:

    hihi.. U r a former students from USM. U taking wat course? Wah, tat sound nice.We can take any foreign language that we like.

    As for the time table,when i c yr first post i really shock!! study till 7p.m WITHOUT any break.Now then i know tat is because u took so many subject.If u manage to handle it well that really benefit you.

    Ya, i agree with you.We must think positively.So tat it won be so terrible.Do u apply any scholarship?

    I scare i not able to cope in Uni. Because during matrik i study everything in MALAY. Now suddenly need to change everything in ENGLISH.This is really a great change to me.Do u face any of this problem?

    Hope to heard from u soon. All the best.Good luck

    Best regrad,

  9. Hi TMY!

    Good luck to you in getting your favourite course! And USM isn’t that bad, I like it there now. It’s a beautiful place and the people are nice. =)

    Hmm, maybe your seniors are encouraging you to work harder. They probably want to prepare you about what to expect in university. And nobody looks down on matriculation students! Why would they want to do that? As far as I know, the matric students are just as smart and hardworking as everyone else.

    And if people were to look down on you, you shouldn’t care about what they think. Just do your best in your studies and live your life to the fullest. What they think is not important at all.

    My orientation week was fun! I met lots of new people and made nice friends. There are various activities and the seniors were really helpful! During orientation, you’ll meet lots of new faces and also new names. I couldn’t remember most of their names but it’s okay, I just ask them again what their name is! Haha!

    Wow, your matriculation orientation sounds tough. And so far, I don’t think anyone collapsed. It was fun and interesting. That’s how I’d describe my orientation. =D

    Yes, you get a hostel room in your first year but some students choose not to stay as their homes are nearby. But, we still need to pay the fees!

  10. Josetee:

    ya.i got one friend stay at Pinang. He told me USM is really a nice place..Do u know what is the different between Ijazah Sarjana Muda Perakaunan and IjazahSarjana Muda perakaunan dengan kepujian.?i don understand this when i filling my UPU form? Some course offer by some campus got KEPUJIAN. What is the different actually.

    Erm. I don noe that i only heard from my lecturer only.So just ask for yr opinion.

    Wah yr orentation seen nice.You only have yr orentation once ?
    For Matriculation we have our orentation once every Semester.

    To share with you.My Matriculation orentation quite tough. Many of my friends Homesick.I saw some of my friends cry in the hall.Quite pity them.The whether is so hot at Labuan.I always get sick.After i few month i get use to it.I also know alot of friend there.Some from SABAH n SARAWAK.They culture is totally different from ours.Ok i think i should stop .(yr blog title is Uni preparation)hahaz..

    Can we choose our roomate ?
    o they allocate for us..

    I really like yr blog compare with others. Beacuase yr bolg information is very detail.Keep it..

    take care ya..
    best regrad

  11. In USM, the first week orientation I've shared, I think not much difference. And yes, we need to wake up early, for Muslims would be earlier, like 5,30am for prayer, but we gathered at 7am, I think is quite ok for me.

    No ragging, so no need to worry.

    You should study hard everywhere you go, right? So, no need to worry too much. Ya, some people are bias, but if you work hard, they will change their mind later on. My roomate is from matric, but none of my coursemate looked down on her.

  12. Hi, I reply twice coz I left out this. Sorry. Ya, I'm from USM. I really learn a lot from my extra course, but my major also requires a lot of credit hours. Haha... not to scare you off.

    Haha... I didn't apply for any scholarship, as my loan could cover it, and I didn't score well in STPM, this did affect me in applying scholarship. If you score well in matrics, then you are eligible to apply any scholarship you want.

    As for the language medium, previously I use more Malay than English, but in my course, we use both languages very often. At first, I would have times that I made sudden silence coz I don't know the word to say, but later these kind of situations happened less and less. And don't worry TMY, you could write well here, I'm sure you can adapt yourself well. As what I heard from my friends, the lecturers also mixed Malay in their English medium lectures, so, enjoy learning! And don't hesitate to try anything new in uni life, as long as it won't hurt you. ^_^

  13. c.h.tay:

    Hi glad to hear from you..
    As what you said that some people are bias,but if you work hard, they will change their mind on you later on. I agree what you had said.

    For the scholarship i did apply for that.Do not know whether i manage to get it.

    As for the language medium,if the lecturer is using both language very often i sholud be ok for me.Hope i manage to cope with it.

    Do you have any pratical in your universiti..?

    Do u know what is the different between Ijazah Sarjana Muda Perakaunan and IjazahSarjana Muda perakaunan dengan kepujian.?i don understand this when i filling my UPU form? Some course offer by some campus got KEPUJIAN. What is the different actually.

    We only have four years to enjoy life in the uni. So i must appreciate it so i won regret in my future.I think study life is better then working life right.No worries.

    Best Regrad,

  14. Hi TMY, Practical is not a must for my course (that means you can't earn any credit hour from it), but most of my fellow course mates took it as a try whether we can manage to be a full time translator or interpretor. But from what I heard by account's friends, practical is a must for USM accounting.

    If they do not stated down 'Kepujian', that means if you want to earn your 'Kepujian' (Honours degree), you need to take another tast, e.g. field research, in order to get your 'Kepujian'. In my case, everyone in my course will considered as 'Kepujian' as long as thier CGPA did not less than 2.0, (i.e. you pass at least 2nd class lower and third class).

    Do enjoy your life in campus, and I'm hardselling USM, so with you luck in your future! If you happened to be my junior, (^_^) go around and enjoy USM facilities, my favourite is the library (2 libraries actually), cosy and make you feel like home. Do not forget to at least take a look at the squash centre, Nicol David once was trained there!

  15. c.h.tay :

    Thanks.Finally i understand what is the different.

    Ya, ihope i will enjoy it.Wah 2 library that mean many reference books we can find from there.That fantastic!!

    when i know which Uni i going i will inform you.

    Lastly,thanks for yr sharing.This really help me..

    Wish u all the best and good luck in yr future..GAMBATEH!!

  16. Hi TMY, I'm glad that I'd help. Anything, u can just email me at [email protected] All the best to you too.

    And thanks to Josette for posting this! I did remember all my good old days! ^_^

  17. greetings. im among the first batch of students who learn science subjects in english during the secondary school. im glad the government came up with the idea. its not really difficult for me to understand the terms used in science and math syllabus here because im already familiar with the words since im in form one until five. not being boastful here, but i do think that we have some additional advantages compared to the previous batch. my sis even asked me the meaning of certain science terms like extraterrestrial, volatile, integers etc. i can say, it feels good to know that at certain things, you are smarter than your sister. =)

    im doing medical course, first year in centre for foundation studies, iium pj. i have to complete my studies here for two years then going to the main campus in kuantan to further my studies; if i pass. for us here, the medium language is english and second; arabic. so if u do not know how to speak english, then speak arabic. =)

    most of us here do not even bother to speak english. of course when we talk in the presence of the international girl from nigeria, we HAVE to communicate in english although it sounds more like MANGLISH. =)

    i spot one big difference between school and university that is; the university compound is too complicated and you might be lost in order to go to your class or library. since the first time i entered here, i had to carry the map provided when i wanted to go somewhere. now that ive studied here for almost two weeks, i had no use of that map already. =)

    when i think back of the first day i came here; a girl with wrinkled baju kurung, white messy tudung, black-rimmed glasses; carrying an extra-huge bag on one hand, the pink baldi on the other hand, lots of sheets and documents in my handbag, black high-school shoes, i have the tendency to laugh out loud. HAHA.

    for God's sake, i am far from acting like a college student at all!

  18. Actually, there are more differences. For instance, the administration of all organised activities. I'm an activist (somehow), I felt the hardship and suffer to get through all the bureaucracy and tedious jobs. In school, just tell and everything organised.
    In short, be independent, and just be yourself! The world is too big to make comparison and contrast. Just enjoy and indulge, before it is too late!

  19. hermmm..i!m a new studnt of ukm. i'm blur now to manage my messy time table. also da problem with my prof

  20. your post reminds me of my freshman year + freshman boarding school year. and my uni life is hell loads of fun. wish you guys the best of luck


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