What to expect

Students usually want to know what university is “really like” (or if it’s anything like the movies… it’s not, really).

Research has shown that there can be a big gap between first-year students’ expectations and the realities of life on a university campus.

While it's true that you'll try new things, meet new people and explore new ideas, university is also a time to develop your independence and learn how to solve your own problems.

So what can you expect? To start, it’s important to understand that due to Australian privacy laws, we can’t discuss student information with your parents or with anyone else.

This means you can’t get your parents to contact us on your behalf, have them email lecturers about your marks, or request information. You have to be responsible for your own learning, time management and enrolment.

At the same time, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it – we’re here to help and there are a lot of services on campus to support you.

The best thing you can do is visit the different support options on campus, ask questions, get involved, and make the most of your time at UQ.

High school versus university

Uni is sort of like high school, right? Not really. The below table will help if you understand how they’re different:

  High school University
Enrolling A parent enrols a child in school. The parent is the primary point of contact. It is compulsory for a child to be enrolled at a school until they turn 16 years old. You are responsible for enrolling in courses each semester. You are the primary point of contact. A student can choose to cancel their enrolment.
Class timetables Fixed hours and days, usually Monday to Friday. Students arrange their own timetables.
Roll call Roll call happens every day. If a student misses class, a parent should contact the school to explain why. Roll calls might be taken in tutorials, but they usually aren’t taken in lectures. Classes may have different attendance policies.
Non-attendance If a student misses a day or successive days without explanation, the school will contact a parent. A teacher might set “catch up” work. If a student misses a class, they need to catch up on work in their own time. In cases of serious illness or extended absences, the student should consider withdrawing from the semester as soon as possible, or applying for extensions and deferred exams.
Class sizes Usually about 30 students per class. Lectures can be large, with hundreds of students, especially for first-year courses.
Assessment A teacher will read drafts of essays or assignments and provide feedback. Constant supervision is given in the classroom. Some class time is usually dedicated to assessment. Lecturers and tutors don’t read drafts. A student is expected to work on assignments independently, usually outside of class. You can ask specific questions about drafts, but you won’t be coached through assessment.
Teachers vs academics Teachers remind students about important dates and deadlines, ensure homework is completed, and monitor a student’s progress. Teachers also supervise classroom behaviour and may intervene as appropriate. Teachers have usually completed an education degree at university. Students have to keep track of important dates and deadlines, and monitor their own progress. Students are treated as adults who understand appropriate behaviour. Lecturers are subject-matter experts who have usually completed a PhD in their area.
Email and face-to-face communication Teachers are regularly available on email to answer school-related questions. Students can email about what they are learning or upcoming assessment. There are opportunities for one-on-one time with a teacher in the classroom. Lecturers usually have set office hours for meeting with students or for answering emails. Students have to submit queries to the appropriate place (e.g. to their lecturer, the Student Centre, the relevant school office etc.)