Tips for High School Leavers

Wen Wen / 1st years, Manawatū campusLeave a Comment

From primary school, to secondary school, and finally tertiary education, there’s one thing we all have in common: it’s the experience of climbing up the school social hierarchy over 5-8 years, before being very abruptly shoved back to the bottom when graduating and moving to the next education provider.


We start as a tiny Year 1 in fear of being stepped on by the enormous Year 6 students – then we become one of the fearsome Year 6’s, towering over all the tiny five year olds. But, before you know it, you’re at secondary school as a not so big Year 9, once again cowering in the shadow of the larger entity: the Year 13s. Then we become the Year 13s and all is well again, until we hit… you got it! University, where, once more, we’ve been pushed back to the bottom and start school life again as wide-eyed first years looking up at the super smart postgrad students.

Want a smooth ride to becoming a senior student envied by all first years? Look no further, for here are 5 tips I’m giving you now that I wish I had known before starting uni.

TIP 1: Do NOT throw away your see-through NCEA plastic bag pencil case thing


Because you will need it again for uni exams. But if you’ve already long thrown that old plastic bag away, simply grab another sandwich bag from your kitchen drawer. If you’re really desperate for something to contain your stationery and you have no sandwich bags, there’s also the option of Glad Wrapping your pens and pencils – not that I’ve ever seen anyone do this before though, but nothing wrong with starting a new trend, right? Not only will everything be held together securely, there’s now no chance of your ink pens drying out before you reach your exam room.

 TIP 2: Do know that a bit of culture shock may be involved


For high school students who have spent the last 5 years of their life in a single gender school (especially if you didn’t do many extracurricular activities), such as myself, uni will come as a bit of a culture shock. It’ll definitely be a bit weird to be mixed in with the opposite gender for the first few weeks, but after that you will find yourself readjusting very quickly.

TIP 3: Do NOT throw away your high school graph paper pads or refill


Like me, you may have had the frustrating experience of being instructed by your school stationery list to buy graph paper almost every year while at high school, to find that over the whole year you may only use 3 sheets, thus leaving you with stacks of dusty, almost brand new, graph paper pads at home. Keep these – you will need them more often at uni, specifically for those of you who are wanting to study maths or science at Massey. And not to mention the millions of sheets of refill that will be used to take notes.

TIP 4: Do NOT fear study


Take out your pens and colouring pencils and get studying!

Whoever said that “uni is easier than high school” was 100% lying. You may think that NCEA Level 3 is already too much this year, but wait til you get into uni. If I had to make a comparison, I might say that one uni paper is equivalent to 4-6 NCEA external standards combined into one (that’s how I felt when I was taking Cells and Physics last semester anyway) – and you have to learn everything in 12 weeks.

However, this is nothing to get stressed about! Sure, there are more new things to learn, a few more assignments to do, but find a study strategy that works well for you, give yourself a few hours each day to do some of your homework and you will be A-ok.

TIP 5: DO keep doing what you like doing


You’ll be busy with assignments and revision for tests, but you should still keep up your hobbies! If you don’t have any particular interests you could have a go at:

  • Sports: be it playing squash/rugby/netball, or going going cycling in the weekends.
  • Playing/learning an instrument, or composing original music.
  • Watching TV shows, e.g. Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Re: Zero, or Running Man.
  • Knitting? Very relaxing. Have a go at arm knitting too for something a bit different!
  • Baking or cooking.
  • Rereading popular book series like Harry Potter from start to finish, or having a go at reading classic books, such as Jane Eyre, Animal Farm, or The Fellowship of the Ring.
  • Gaming on your laptop or Nintendo.
  • Painting, drawing, photography.

You need a form of de-stress and Me Time in between doing homework and revision at uni, and socialising with friends, in order to remain sane.

These are some of the things that I wish I’d known before starting uni. What about you guys? Was there anything else you wish you’d known before becoming a uni student?



Hi, everyone, my name's Wen! I’m from Malaysia, and I moved to New Zealand when I was four, along with my parents and younger brother. I love music (from pop, to rock, to classical), drawing, and just about every kind of animal there is. Like many of you reading this blog, 2016 marks my first year in university! In Semester 1, I was enrolled in pre-vet, however, I didn't make it in. This semester, I'm doing a Bachelor of Science, double majoring in Genetics and Microbiology. It's been an interesting year so far and I'm sure it'll continue to be one! I always like to look on the bright side of things, and with that outlook I hope I’ll be able to share my experiences of uni life, as a first year, with you all!