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Starting at uni – your questions, answered

Uni life
Published 16 May, 2023  ·  4-minute read

High school is about to finish, and graduation is just around the corner. It's an exciting time, but planning for something completely new can feel overwhelming.

You’ve probably heard what life at uni is like, and reports can differ wildly depending on who you talk to.

To help you out, we’ve answered some of the common questions students like you have asked in the past.

Questions about university study

Will what I choose to study affect my future success?

Don’t stress if you’re not totally sure what you want to do after uni – you’re definitely not the only one. Sometimes, you won’t know if you really like something until you try it.

In fact, the job you’ll end up in might not even exist yet. That’s why at UQ, we offer a level of flexibility so you can follow your interests wherever they lead you, whether that’s different majors, extracurricular activities, research and placement opportunities, or pathways into other programs.

No matter what’s around the corner, you’ll be equipped with the skills to tackle it.

Get the lowdown on what it's really like to study your program of interest from UQ students and teachers.

A UQ Dentistry lecturer shows a model of the inside of a mouth to students

Do lecturers and tutors have any real-world experience?

The subjects aren’t just what our lecturers and tutors teach – it’s what they do.

UQ’s celebrated researchers, who are making discoveries that push their fields of research further, are the ones who will be teaching you – they are experts in the courses they teach.

Most importantly, they are passionate about what they’re teaching too. And don’t just take our word for it – UQ has the most Australian Awards for University Teaching of any university, so you can be confident will be taught by the best in Australia.

Is uni harder than high school?

This one’s pretty subjective. Uni is very different to high school because you’re responsible for your own time. This means sometimes making tough decisions like not going to a party the night before an assignment is due (unless of course, you planned your time well and have finished it already!).

The good news is, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. UQ offers plenty of support to help you make the transition, so you’ll be thriving at uni before you know it.

Two students sit on green grass chatting to one another in the sunshine in UQ Gatton campus' Central Walkway

Questions about university life

Do I need to be at uni 5 days a week, from 9am to 5pm?

Usually, this is not the case. A standard full-time study load consists of 8 courses per year, or 4 per semester. Generally, each course will require 3 to 4 contact hours at uni, so don’t be surprised if you find you’re only on campus 2 or 3 days a week.

You’ll have a fair bit more out-of-class reading and study to do than you did at high school, though, so make sure you allow time for that around your other commitments.

Is uni all work and no play?

Absolutely not. Life at uni is not just about what you learn, but also the people you meet, learn with and learn from.

There is always something social to do on campus. UQ has a thriving network of fantastic student-led clubs and societies, a massive range of sports teams and many entertainment and food outlets.

If you bury your nose in a book the whole time, you’ll miss out on the best parts of uni – which many students say after they graduate are the memories they cherish the most.

Students in colourful ponchos smile at the camera as coloured powders are thrown in the air around them

Questions about life after university

Is getting a job after uni hard?

We’d be lying if we said finding a job was easy – the job market is competitive and it’s important to set yourself apart from the rest of the field of applicants.

By choosing to study at UQ, you’re already a step ahead, because our grads are very highly regarded by employers around the world – in fact, a lot of employers were once UQ students themselves, so they know the quality and value of a UQ degree.

Our advice would be to take advantage of every chance to set yourself up for success while you’re studying. The courses you study will give you plenty of knowledge, hands-on experience, and access to world-class facilities and award-winning teachers. However, there are also plenty of programs, internships, social and networking activities, and other work-integrated learning opportunities that will help you get your foot in the door of your industry. Seek out these opportunities and make the most of them while you’re at uni.

Learn more about enhancing your employability while studying at UQ.

A young woman sits taking notes while she is being interviewed by a potential employer

Do employers even care about my grades?

Employers value high achieving, academically focused and determined graduates, and this can be shown in their grades. However, we hear from employers we work with that they also value soft skills like teamwork, communication, problem-solving and leadership – sometimes more than the grades you have. Identifying these skills in a candidate definitely helps employers come to a decision if there are two job applicants with similar grades. It’s all the more reason to get involved in the many extracurricular activities on offer while you’re studying, to help you hone these valued interdisciplinary skills.

Do you have to pay your student loan back before you start earning above a certain amount?

If you’re eligible, fees you pay to study at uni can be deferred by the Australian Government until you’ve graduated and are earning enough to be able to pay it back.

Learn more about the HECS-HELP student loan for domestic students.

Another common question we get is whether you have to pay back your fees if you move overseas. The verdict? Yes, you still have to pay fees back.

One last question, just in case you're curious...

Is St Lucia campus so big that it has its own postcode?

The University of Queensland's St Lucia campus is its own suburb – 4072, to be exact. It has everything – parklands and lakes, a gym, playing fields, a post office, a bank, 7 libraries, 5 museums, and heaps of places to relax, catch up with friends, and grab a bite to eat.

At this rate, the only thing we don’t have yet is our own airport! Stay tuned…

Get quick tips from a UQ student on how to make your first semester of university a total success.

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