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Case study

Transitioning from High School to University

Transitioning from high school to university

You have just finished high school and a new chapter is about to unfold: uni life. It’s a really exciting time, full of new experiences and friends. However, many students are having a hard time adjusting, so let’s get into some of the most common challenges that a uni student might face.

Academic challenges

The first challenge that most of us had to face is the increased workload. What is more, frequent test policy is rare -thus potential gaps can go unnoticed until the final exams-, turning in homework is nowhere near as strict as it was in high school and mandatory attendance isn’t even a thing in a lot of universities. The structured daily routine we had as high schoolers is finally over and we can now enjoy all this free time. Nevertheless, this “free time” is nothing more than an illusion and getting carried away by it can sometimes be an issue. What’s really making university so different is the responsibility and discipline required. It’s on you -and only you- to keep up with lectures, take notes, be consistent with assignments and realize your weaknesses in order to boost them. It can be a shock at first, but it’s easier to handle by discovering your optimal studying techniques and settings, as well as by learning to manage your time efficiently. It’s definitely a lot -especially at the beginning- but you’ve got this! We’ve all been there and we’ve survived!


Another struggle for many university students -myself included- can be studying away from home. This new reality can be broken down to two separate but equally significant challenges:

  1. Leaving from the environment we grew up in: This abrupt shift in habits inevitably affects our relationships with family and friends. Feeling homesick is normal, but it gets better as you form a new daily routine that includes the people you left back home. Phone calls, video calls, texts or even regular trips back home can do the trick. As for your friends, distance can -and will- reveal a lot as to which relationships are meant to evolve and which ones will gradually fade. It’s a not-so-fun part of growing up, but it can be full of surprises.

  2. Having to adjust to a new environment: Building new relationships, taking part in activities etc -even if you don’t feel like doing so at first- can be fun and do wonders, as far as loneliness is concerned. Everyone’s goal is to connect with each other, have fun and make this transition easier. Aristotle wrote in his “Politics” that man is by nature a social animal and society is something that precedes the individual. Embrace this new “society” that surrounds you and give yourself a chance to benefit from its endless possibilities (study groups-tutors, parties, fraternities/sororities, support groups etc).

Personal challenges

Living by yourself is yet another challenge that you’ll have to come to terms with. Life with your own rules and without curfews is thrilling but when it comes to house chores and budgeting, adulting can be tough. Despite these practical challenges, though, this is a magical time during which you get to discover your personality to its full extent, set your boundaries and, most importantly, learn to take care of yourself. The process of self-discovery and awareness can be fulfilling and startling at the same time. Take advantage of this time to grow and always prioritize your well-being: avoid junk food, party responsibly -don’t be afraid that saying no will spoil the fun- and trust your instinct.

DON’T FORGET: The transition from high school to uni can be hard and it’s normal to feel that way. Do not hesitate to reach out to friends, support groups or a mental health center for help -chances are you’re not alone in this. Last but not least, always keep in mind that nothing is final. If you feel like you’ve reached a dead-end, it is totally fine to take a few steps back, reconsider your options and watch a whole new world of opportunities appear right in front of you.

Michaela-Zoi Psaromatti, Democritus University of Thrace