The Little Things That Change

Recently, I walked past two girls sitting on the floor of the Science building. For some reason,┬áit seemed out of place. I couldn’t understand why I kept glancing at them. Finally, I realized that no one usually sits on the floor at university! Back in high school, sitting on the floor next to your locker was completely normal. But I realized that at university, this was definitely not the norm. Everyone talks about how university is sooo different from high school. Classes are larger, campus is huge, and you can take classes that you find interesting.

But this made me start to think about the small things that change when we become post-secondary students, the things that people don’t really tell you, like etiquette or unknown rules. Here’s a selection of the minor differences between high school and the U of A:


Lockers used to be a big deal at my old high school. I still remember meeting up with my friends on the first day of school to figure out where to get our lockers. Throughout the year, our lockers were where we met up at the end of the day, or where we sat to eat lunch. But at university, you don’t get assigned to a locker every year. Sure you can choose to get a locker, but many university students tend to go without. Maybe that’s why we always have such huge backpacks!

Raising your hand in lecture: to do or not to do


Raising your hand to ask for clarification? Sure!

Asking the professor to talk a bit louder? No problem!

Raising your hand to go to the bathroom or to leave class early? Don’t be that student.

Sure this might have been normal in high school, but at university, you can just leave the class without asking. Think about it: if you were in a 200 person class and each person had to go to the bathroom at least once per term, that’s 200 interruptions in a lecture!

teacherHomework? What homework?

In high school, you might have been used to your teacher assigning homework at the end of class. When students first start university, they sometimes get confused. In some classes, there are no assignments to hand in, so a lot of students think that there is no such thing as homework. However, the professor may suggest readings in the syllabus, but it is up to the student to read the textbook and make sure they understand what is happening.

Are we there yet?

Another difference that I’ve found is the amount of walking you do as a university student. Whether it’s running from your English class to make it to Chemistry, or even meeting up with your friends in the Students’ Union Building, you’ll probably want to get to know the shortcuts really well. At first, it’ll seem like a pain (someone once asked me if the university rented Segways), but you’ll get used to finding your way around campus. It counts as some exercise… right?

First years! This way, please!

Here’s a bit of campus etiquette for you. Whenever you’re walking around at the U of A, always try to stick to the right hand side of a road or hallway. When class changes happen, thousands of students are streaming out of their classes to get to their next destination. It seems like a no-brainer to stick to the right hand side, but you’ll be surprised to see the number of students who try to push their way in the opposite direction of traffic. This is especially true in HUB Mall. When there isn’t too much space to walk through, you’ll definitely value this tip!

These are just some of the things that I’ve noticed while at the university, if you have any questions or suggestions, definitely let me know!