Transition to uni – view from the inside

Michael, Belle & Nick provided a valuable insight into uni life in a Mentor group Q&A session

When school finally ends we head off to jobs, university, TAFE, other training or a combination of those adventures. But what is it like?

Recently a Mentor class comprising Year 11 and 12 students held a discussion with Belle, Michael and Nick, who were Year 12s at North Lake in 2021, about the transition to university.

Belle is currently studying engineering, Michael international relationships and Nick finance and accounting. As is the case with most modern students Belle and Michael also maintain part-time jobs while Nick works full-time hours.

All three said the transition to university study was difficult and took time. Nick said it was a shock to go from close relationships with teachers to lots of online learning and the need to make appointments to see lecturers. Even exams were completed at home under the watchful eye of a camera.

The transition process can be made easier by joining in with clubs and activities.

Flexibility and change were themes that came through regularly as the former students answered questions. Each was able to recall a difficult but pivotal moment at North Lake that shaped their futures.

Belle went into Year 12 after arriving from Malaysia but after difficult conversations with teachers and student services decided to move to Year 11. “I didn’t want to waste a year,” she said, “But it was the right thing for me.”

Nick reluctantly spent time in the IEC after coming from Vietnam. “I thought I was ready for Year 11 but IEC turned out to be the best time of my North Lake journey. I learned a lot of things and made friends and soul mates.”

Michael said failing a test for the first time in his life in Year 11 made him more resilient.

Choices made about what to study at university can change too as Michael explained. “At uni you will find what you like. You can do courses that are close to what you want to do and if you change you can transfer credits.”

On the technical side of uni life the former North Lake students emphasised the importance of learning the vocabulary of your area of study and of the great importance placed upon correct reference and citation practices. 

North Lake, with its caring teachers and strong students services team, gained a strong tick of approval from these former students but Belle did offer a word of caution about the next step. “At university nobody cares about what you did at school or what your ATAR was. You are there to learn. I think you should follow your passion.”