What Mario found to be the biggest difference between school and university

20 January 2020

Mario Gonzalez, a second year BSc International Management student, shares his experience of starting university, discovering his newfound freedom and making the most of the array opportunities available to him.

When you start university for the very first time, everything seems surreal and for the first few weeks everything feels new and it’s extremely exciting. Personally, the biggest change for me was realising how independent I suddenly was, and how much freedom I had. Back in school, you wake up at a set time, go to school for a set number of hours per day, and you have a set amount of homework to do. The main responsibility you have to worry about is making sure you hand in your assessments on time, but usually everything else is taken care of at school.

When you arrive at university, immediately you realise that you need to prepare everything yourself. Food, laundry, cleaning, university work, choosing electives, attending events and committing to activities such as societies or sports clubs. The structure that was in place your whole life through your parents and the academic institution you attended are no longer there and you need to learn to adjust. You can choose to go to sleep at 4am every night, eat pizza for every meal and spend all your money in two days and the reality is that no one will say anything if you do choose to do that (I wouldn’t recommend it though!). There is no one to check up on you and tell you what you should do, so if you want to do well at university, you need to step up and grow up fast. Luckily, almost everyone around you is just as lost in this newfound freedom that you often work it out together. It is a wild adventure - you just have to hang on for the ride.

Mario and his flatmates

To this extent, it’s also exhilarating to be so free. If you don’t like eating broccoli, you don’t have to. If you want to take piano lessons, go for it. You enjoy playing hockey? Join the sports team. If you feel like going out with your friends in Leamington Spa? Go crazy. Your life is in your hands, and as long as you are responsible and don’t lose track of what’s really important and why you came to university in the first place, your newfound independence is a great perk to university life. You will find that you will look forward to the end of term where you can have a break from university and see your family during the holidays.

Another huge change from university in comparison to secondary school is the array of opportunities available to you, especially at the University of Warwick. The number of different societies available and the diversity of topics they cover is incredible. If you enjoy cocktails, speaking Italian, watching Game of Thrones, eating good food, find TED talks interesting and want to do some volunteering, there is at least one society for each of the examples I have listed. You can choose to partake in all of them or just one, with no pressure or commitment whatsoever. However much you want to invest in yourself is entirely up to you, and this freedom allows you to go to many different events. If you are extremely interested in a society, you can even apply to become a part of the Executive team, which is an excellent opportunity to develop many different skills and if you really do not find a society you are excited by, just create one yourself! I guarantee there will be other students equally passionate, and you will be the founder of another brilliant society. From personal experience, becoming involved in societies is definitely one of the highlights of my university experience, both by being part of teams and attending events. I would strongly advise you to venture out of your comfort zone in this manner.

Mario at TedX Warwick

At university there is always, always, always something going on whether it is a night out, a conference, a skills workshop, or even the monthly food market on campus. It is an extremely exciting place to be, and everyone is as excited and motivated to try new things as you are so I would recommend venturing out and trying new things to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity. Starting university is a big change, but it is also one of the most thrilling experiences of your life so make the most of it! And don’t get bogged down when the changes seem too overwhelming - remember that there are hundreds and thousands of students going through the exact same thing as you and you are all there to support each other.

Are you ready to embrace independence and start your undergraduate journey? If you would like to discover more about Warwick Business School, you can download our Undergraduate brochure.