How to Succeed at University

By Celia Walmsley

I recently graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts, even though I never sat a single school exam. My first exam (not counting driving test and music exams) was when I was twenty, and I was okay with it.  It wasn’t scary, I didn’t freak out, and I didn’t fail!

I have found that a lot of people think that you need to go to school or at least sit school exams to even get into university, never mind to do well there. But one of the things that is actually often said at university is that recent school-leavers need to change their learning method. The university environment is very different from high school; it is self-driven and you are encouraged to read around the subject as much as possible.

I loved learning at university and was thrilled to be offered postgraduate study.  So I was disappointed when I heard other students in lectures asking if they needed to know particular things for the final exam. Often, if the answer was no, they would actually put down their pens and not bother taking notes. It appeared that the aim was simply to pass exams rather than learn and become better educated.

I found that being home-educated was one of the best advantages I had at university; I was already able to motivate myself to study and plan my time effectively,  and I also had a love of learning that continued throughout my degree.

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