Questions Every Prospective University Student Has

Photo: C. Bergeron UVic

Exactly a year ago I was narrowing down universities to apply to and choosing my top choices. This whole process understandably had me thinking a lot about what my life would be looking like in the years ahead. Now that I’m here I can answer the questions I and many of my peers had, and hopefully it will answer some of yours.

How much harder is university than high school?

This depends a lot on what your university program is, what courses you took in high school, as well as so many other factors that I can only begin to scrape the surface of.

Personally, I’ve found that there is a change, but it is manageable. I took multiple courses by correspondence on top of regular academics and extracurricular activities during high school, so I learned time management early on. Time management skills are your best friend.

Don’t feel pressured to take on a full course load, jump into post-secondary studies, load up on clubs and sports, or anything else if it will be overwhelming for you. You have the best judgement in what is best for you in your situation.

UVic also has resources such as math and physics help, librarians available to answer your questions about materials for research papers, a writing centre for students, and numerous other resources available including some for mental and physical health.

What is it like living on campus?

Residence building in the Towers neighbourhood

Living in residence is lots of fun. Even though I’m quite introverted it’s nice having people around to talk to.

There are multiple housing options to choose from such as single rooms, doubles, cluster apartments and townhouses, as well as Living Learning Communities (LLC’s for short) if you’re interested in leadership initiatives, being around students in your major or faculty, or if a quieter crowd is more your style.

We also have a wonderful group of upper year students who are our Community Leaders (CL’s, sometimes called RA’s at other universities) and are there to arrange group activities, make sure everyone’s staying safe, and serve as mentors.

What does UVic have for clubs?

Mt. Washington day trip with the Snow Club.

We have a lot of clubs here, typically ranging in the triple digits. We also have course unions for many departments such as biology and psychology. Clubs are also super diverse, including cultural societies, philanthropy and volunteering groups, music, film, kayaking, dance crews and groups, concrete canoe building, comedy, academics, gaming, poetry, improv, and that’s just a small sample.

If you have a club in mind that doesn’t exist, yet chances are other people want to join a similar club, so get together and register your own! Clubs are also one of the easiest ways to meet people besides orientation and lectures.

What are the professors like?

The professors here are amazing both as people and in their respective fields. Professors and sessional instructors put a lot of effort into making student experiences in their courses the best it can be. Don’t be afraid to go to office hours to get help, they’ll appreciate that you’re putting in the effort to understand the course material.

How much free time will I have?

Photo by Lilian from MyUvic Life

It depends. Between your program, course load, what activities you plan for outside of class time, your study needs and what grades you want to achieve, the answer can vary a lot.

I spend an average of three hours a day in lecture with two to six hours a day dedicated to readings, assignments, and quizzes. The ratio that is most recommended is 1:2 or 1:3 (hours in class to hours spent studying). Different classes may also need different amounts of time.

How you distribute your workload also makes a huge difference. You’d be surprised how much time you have in a day when you accomplish as much as possible as early as time and take advantage of the smaller chunks of time in your schedule. However, to answer the original question, I’d say I have between 14-20 (sometimes more) hours a week of time that isn’t dedicated to sleep, study, class or any other daily activities.

Will I be super stressed and running on coffee all the time?

Stress is always present to some degree in anyone. It’s an evolutionary skill used to keep you alive, but it shouldn’t take over your life.

A lot of stress can be prevented by getting on top of your workload early in the term and practicing good work habits like starting early and getting help on concepts if you need it. Things do start to pick up around midterms but practicing preparedness helps a lot.

If you do get off track you can get yourself back on track by prioritizing and getting to work (think divide and conquer!). As for the coffee, shockingly enough I don’t drink coffee, but if you do find a little coffee consumption gives you the boost you need Rachel wrote a great post about Coffee Culture in Victoria.

There’s also plenty of places around campus that sell coffee and other study fuel like BiblioCafe, Cinecenta Munchie Bar, Starbucks, and Bean There, plus there’s often coupons given away during orientation and the first few weeks back to school.


I hope this gave some answers and made the wonderful world of post-secondary education seem less daunting. If you’re curious about anything please leave them in the comments below (maybe there will be a part two). Hope to see you at UVic!

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