The Life of a University Student

Apr 22, 15 The Life of a University Student

The classes are large enough to fill an auditorium and students are taught by professors who probably don’t know their names. University is certainly a lot different from high school, and recent graduate Brandon Frenette can attest to that.

“In high school, you cover a lot less material in a lot more time…  No matter what, [in university] you’re going to have to learn something someone else learned in high school, but it isn’t too bad.”

After graduating as valedictorian of Bathurst High School’s class of 2014, Frenette decided to continue his education in UNB Fredericton’s engineering program.

“I’m majoring in chemical engineering. I originally went into general engineering since I didn’t know for sure what type of engineering I would like best. I chose it [chemical engineering] because I felt it lined up best with the classes I enjoyed in high school. Engineering is cool. If you’re cool, go into engineering.”

The transition from high school to university can be a difficult jump for those who aren’t prepared, especially for those such as Frenette coming from a smaller school like BHS, but most universities are great at welcoming students and easing them into their campus community early in the year.

“The first week of university, orientation week was pretty great. Tons of activities were planned each day and since nobody knew each other, everyone was in friend-making mode. Even if you don’t make tons of lasting friendships, it’s still a fun week and a good transition to being away from home.”

It’s the end of the school year for university students, which means its exam time as well. Frenette’s exams focus on math and science, and have some slight differences from what students at BHS would be used to.

“Exams are longer and cover more content, but they’re also less about memorization. Often, formula sheets are allowed. The vast majority of first year math courses don’t allow calculators, but give easy numbers to work with. Also, I’m not exactly sure what this means, but I was always one of the slowest people to write exams at BHS and now I’m not. Are people at BHS really fast at exams? Are people here slow? I’m not sure. All I know is that I seem to finish exams faster now.”

Most first year university students live on campus in dorm rooms, but that isn’t quite the case for Frenette. His dorm experience was cut short after some allergy related issues in the dining hall, which led to him moving into the on campus apartments designated for upper-year students.

“I definitely prefer living in an apartment. It feels a lot more like home than a tiny room with two beds and two desks crammed into it.”

Though living on campus may feel like a fun idea for some, Frenette’s opinion is quite the opposite.

“My favourite thing about living on campus is that it’s close to where class is. Other than that, I don’t see many other benefits… Sometimes it feels as though I’m permanently at school. There’s less separation between where I live and where I go to class, and sometimes this gets a little bit depressing. No one wants to be at school all day. Well, maybe some people do I suppose, but I’m sure most people don’t.”

A common struggle when attending university is the separation from friends. Frenette and his high school group all went their own way after graduation, spreading out at different schools all over Atlantic Canada. Despite the distance and their busy schedules, many of them still manage to stay in touch.

“I’m still in touch with my friends from high school. We keep in touch with smoke signals, like everyone else. It’s the most convenient form of long distance communication. Occasionally, we use Facebook and Skype in addition to the smoke signals. It’s mostly the smoke signals though, just for the convenience.”

In addition to staying connected to old friends, university also brings the possibility of many new friendships, but making friends isn’t easy for everyone. Frenette has never been a social butterfly.

“I never have an easy time making friends and don’t actively try to meet people. Since you’re not always with the same people like in high school, meeting people is a little harder in university. You can easily go an entire year without meeting anyone if you want to, or you could meet hundreds of people. It’s entirely up to the person.”

University isn’t a one-size fits all experience. Every student will have their own opinions, likes, and dislikes about life in post-secondary education, and Frenette is no different.

“The best part of university is feeling like I’m finally learning something with real world application. In high school, you learn a lot of things without really knowing why… The worst part of university is the few terrible professors. Terrible professors are terrible.”

Frenette’s final advice for future university students?

“Make decisions based on what’s best for you.”

1 Comment

  1. Chelsey MacLaggan /

    Smoke signals…hahaha. The part of the article I remember best was the part about sometimes feeling like you never leave school when you live on campus. Interesting read. Well done Hailey.