Five differences between high school and tertiary study

Your next adventure awaits you at RMIT, so here’s what you should know before you start.

Now that your uni or TAFE experience is getting closer, it might be hard to visualise what exactly it will be like. Between strange-sounding lingo and a newfound sense of independence awaiting you, it’s totally normal to be somewhere in between nervous and excited.

Whether you’re planning to decide what’s next, or you’re just curious about life after Year 12, here are some differences you might notice between high school and tertiary study. 

Student in lecture theatre

1. You’ll call the shots with how you study

Say goodbye to set times for recess and parent-teacher interviews. Tertiary study is all about independence, so it will be up to you to attend classes and submit your assignments on time. At the start of the semester, your tutor will provide you with an overview of everything you’ll be assessed on, so it’s important to save this for reference.

Even though tertiary study is more independent than what you might be used to, you’re not alone in the process of adjusting. As an RMIT student, you’ll be able to access a range of study support services, including personalised assessment help, peer mentoring and wellbeing support.

2. Class hours are a little different

Did you know the average student spends between 12 – 20 hours a week at uni or TAFE? Depending on timetabling, this could mean you’re only on campus for two or three days per week! Outside of this time on campus, and unlike high school, you have total control over how much time you put into homework, assignments and studying, and you can easily fit this around part-time work or social commitments. 

Based on current information, most Semester 1 2021 courses at RMIT are expected to have a mix of face-to-face and online learning activities. Lectures and seminars will be delivered online only. Facilitated learning, such as workshops and practicals, will be delivered face-to-face on campus, where possible.

Undergraduate students

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3. You'll have the chance to travel – and get study credit for it

There are lots of different global study opportunities available through uni. You might complete a global internship or study tour through your course, or even an exchange at a partner institution overseas. 

Picture yourself trekking through Vietnam’s rice fields on an exchange, taking a fashion intensive class at the LIM College in New York, or immersing yourself in the beauty of Mexico to learn Spanish. At RMIT, learning doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom.

In fact, for Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) student Victoria Wan, putting classroom theory into action overseas was the best way to learn.

"I participated in two accredited international projects. One was around a small island in Fiji, assessing the marine biodiversity in a locally managed marine area, in contrast to one of no protection. 

“I also ventured to Costa Rica to assist with the ongoing long-term monitoring of sea turtles and the subsequent collection of developmental data. 

“These opportunities allowed me to experience some of the challenges faced in field research, while adapting to a foreign work environment."

Study tours and exchanges all count towards study credit, and there’s a lot of loans and scholarships available.

4. There's a student club for you

Into gaming, dance or art? How about sport or spending time outdoors? No matter what you’re interested in, passionate about advocating for, or culturally a part of, there’s an RMIT student club or society for you. 

While you might have been in a student club or sports team at school, at RMIT the options are virtually endless. Through clubs and societies, you could join competitions, make friends outside your course, or even make your own connections to industry.

“The highlight of my learning experience at RMIT was undoubtedly the connections I made with other students through clubs, and the opportunity to network with various industry professionals at events held by student associations,” says Bachelor of Business (Accountancy) student Ivy Kioko.

5. You’ll make lots of new friends

You might not be choosing the same uni or TAFE that others from your high school plan to, and that’s okay. While it could be a little daunting at first, remind yourself that this is your chance to meet new people, make new friends and embrace new experiences. 

There are lots of great spaces on RMIT’s campuses to hang out with your new classmates. Plus, you’ll study with students from different backgrounds during class projects and assignments. Your tertiary experience is what you make of it, and through these activities, yours could mean forming lifelong friendships. 

“RMIT provides a lot of opportunities for you to create new friends and have a good time beyond the classroom,” says Bachelor of Business (Marketing) (Applied) student Michael Palermo. 

“Going for a drink or grabbing something to eat at Melbourne’s best bars, restaurants and cafés before, between or after classes is a highlight.” 

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer