Navigating the uncharted waters of university 

The pivotal decision to embark on when enrolling in university this semester was strenuous but precise. I felt conflicted at the crossroads of my future, assessing my interests while also promising a bright future in terms of possibilities for job growth, which is necessary given the society we live in.

I had a sobering awakening that I had grown up, which was tough for me to accept. I realised that I no longer had someone leading me through my education and that it was up to me to succeed, which is what you would expect from an only child. The realisation that the decisions I make now are the foundation of my future frightened me and put heaps of pressure on me. I started questioning myself whether I was prepared for university, and if I had seen enough of the world to gain exposure. My thoughts oscillated between making my father proud and making something out of myself. For me, university was an opportunity to repay my parents for sacrificing their own lives to ensure that I could experience a better life, with better education, surroundings and possibilities. This was juxtaposed with concerns over my degree choice and the drastic lifestyle changes that university necessitated. I felt the pressure of not being able to balance working and upholding myself financially while simultaneously adapting to a new learning environment, managing my time effectively, and interacting with family and friends. After months of bottled emotions, I still remained apprehensive about the journey upon which I was about to embark.

One of the most immediate differences I encountered attending university was the shift in academic expectations and responsibilities. Unlike the structured environment of high school, with teachers closely guiding the academic journey, university offers a landscape of intellectual freedom that demands a higher level of self-discipline and initiative. From sitting in a class with 30 students I was sitting in a lecture theatre of 400 students from different age groups and diverse ethnicities. I found it easy to adjust to the change of academia as being independent comes naturally to me, but a difficulty that I found was that I tend to ask questions about my work to ensure that it is up to standard. I found that seeking out resources like tutoring and study groups and embracing the freedom to explore subjects deeply and independently is beneficial. You may have a stigma of it being ‘nerdy’ but I ended up making new friendships, which allowed us to ask questions amongst ourselves. 

During this shift, my social landscape experienced a similarly substantial transition, with new environments encouraging the formation of diverse and long-lasting relationships. From my experience in high school, friendships have taken years to strengthen. My friends from primary school have grown up with me, forming new friendships and doing stupid things together. However, because we were all confronted with university, with some of us travelling abroad and others moving away from Auckland, we were forced to venture outside our comfort zones and form new connections while remaining in touch. University introduces a sea of new faces from varied backgrounds, offering the chance to build a diverse network of friendships. 'O week' is something I encourage everyone to attend, with different themes each night in town, social activities held at the universities, and opportunities to join clubs of your interests. 

The emotional aspect of this transaction cannot be overstated. For me, university was and still is a period of self-discovery, filled with highs and lows. I suggest being attentive to noticing what your mood and behaviours are, and managing your stress levels. Something that stresses me out is submitting my assignments at the last minute. I know it's annoying and you can't be bothered and you may claim that you work better under stress, but my advice to you is to be ahead of your lecture notes and assignments, in order to be prepared. Self-control and management are extremely important aspects in university that high school necessarily doesn’t prepare you for; therefore the transition, shock and realisation can be nerve-racking. The best thing you can do is look after yourself and prioritise your mental health. I am not implying that this will be an easy process, but I am saying that if you get into good habits now, it will follow you throughout your journey in university. Something that worked for me is writing a ‘to-do list’ on my notes of the tasks I need to do every day, so that I am on top of things daily, and also creating a calendar to which I add when my lectures are and the study I need to do for them. 

The transition from high school to university is an important turning point of transformation. It's time to embrace change, explore passions, and carve a path to future goals. While the shift might be difficult, it also provides unrivalled chances for growth and self-discovery. Take it slow and enjoy every moment, don’t forget to socialise with your friends and family, and have fun!

Channel Mag's youth contributors, Fantasia Nair and Ellie Brown bring a fresh monthly feature to our pages to inspire and advise our younger North Shore readers. If there are any topics you'd like to read about, contact Liz at and our fledgling writers will research and write engaging articles specifically for our younger (at heart) readers.