The transition from high school to university is an exciting time. You’re filled with anticipation, and you’ve got a whole new set of challenges and responsibilities to look forward to. But what should you do if you aren’t sure that you’re prepared for this new chapter?
To help you decide if you’re ready for university, take our handy quiz below. Read through the eight statements and ask yourself if they reflect who you are. Don’t panic if you see an area where you could use a little improvement! Dalhousie has tons of services to help you succeed once you arrive on campus.
Give yourself a score from 1–5 for each (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree) and check your results below.
1. I’m self-directed, hand in homework and assignments on time, and never leave them until the last minute.
Between doing five classes, labs, tutorials, and study groups, university means juggling a lot of work. You’ll need a plan to manage your time and due dates. If you leave assignments and homework until the last minute, you’ll be bringing yourself unneeded stress. Having a plan to get things done ahead of time will help you balance your workload with your downtime.
2. I know how to take care of myself, and do things like wash my laundry, shop for groceries, and cook.
If you’re living away from home for the first time, you’ll need to know basic skills for taking care of yourself. When you’re working to meet important deadlines, it’s important to have a clean, organized space at home to limit distractions. If you live off campus you’ll also want to make sure you have healthy options for meals. If you aren’t prepared to cook for yourself yet, a meal hall plan may be a great option for you.
3. I take good notes in class and review them at the end of each day.
Taking notes isn’t only for studying for tests and exams. It also helps you to stay engaged in class. You can’t just write down what’s on the presentation slides, you also have to take notes on what your professor is saying. If you need help with taking notes, you may be able to use the note-taking support service through Dal’s Student Accessibility Centre.
4. I’m good at managing my personal finances, and know to make a budget and stick to it.
Adding financial stress on top of everything else that’s going on in your life can really affect your success in university. You should have a financial plan or budget in place before you start classes. Visit dal.ca/moneymatters for budgeting tips, and use Dal’s budget calculator to help you plan.
5. I know when to put my mental health first and am OK with asking for help.
If the ups and downs of life are consuming your thoughts, or you’re overwhelmed in your classes, it’s completely OK to ask for help. The Student Health and Wellness Centre on our Halifax Campus and Health Services on our Agricultural Campus can connect you with the right services to help you create a plan to make your mental health a priority.
6. I’m prepared to study for 25–30 hours per week outside of my class time.
Yes, this is the average amount of time university students spend studying outside of classes. It works out to be around 1.5–2 hours for every hour you spend in class. Remember, studying doesn’t just mean preparing for a test or exam. You should also use this time to do your readings, finish your assignments, and go over your notes.
7. I know my learning style and how to use it to my advantage.
You’re more likely to find academic success if you’re aware of your personal learning style. Some students learn best in a lecture hall, while others are better in a more hands-on environment. Don’t worry too much if you haven’t figured it out yet. Dalhousie’s Stay on Track program can help you identify your learning style and ensure it’s compatible with your degree program.
8. I’m open to meeting new people and having new experiences.
The most successful students are those who get involved on campus—whether that’s being involved in group projects, clubs, societies, or sports teams. Meeting new people means building a support network right on campus, which can help if you're homesick. But don’t underestimate the importance of keeping in contact with your existing support group.
So how did you do?
Add up your points and read your results below:
40–30 points: Congratulations! You’re well-equipped to start university. You may have a couple of skills you’re still working on, but you feel confident in your ability to manage your workload, your finances, and still be an active member of Dalhousie’s campus community.
29–10 points: You have some of the skills needed to succeed in university, but you may need to fine-tune them before arriving on campus. Improving your self-discipline ensures that you’re ready to manage all of your class work and personal responsibilities. You should check out some of the campus resources I’ve mentioned.
9–0 points: You might not feel ready to come to university and that’s completely OK. You have time to work on your skills, and the option to defer your acceptance until you feel ready. If you’re unsure about managing your finances, a lot of students take a gap year after high school and work to earn money for university.
But don’t feel that you need to defer! As I’ve mentioned, there are tons of support services at Dal. If you feel unsure when you arrive on campus, reach out to an advisor in the Bisset Student Success Centre on our Halifax Campus or the Student Success Centre on our Agricultural Campus for advice and support.