The Sims 3 University Life guide, part 1: attending University

University Life, the latest expansion pack for The Sims 3, has just landed within the last few days, and there’s not much in the way of comprehensive guides out there. I thought I’d put together some preliminary information to help people out. This part discusses the process of preparing for, enrolling at, and attending University; the second part will discuss the other new content in University Life, including social groups, new careers, new skills, new traits, new lifetime goals and rewards, and more.

Updated March 11 2013: Added sub-neighborhood map with full legend. Part 2 of the guide is still in the works!


Official Site: This is EA’s official page for the expansion, covering University Life’s new features, gameplay and content.

The University Experience

Sims University is a sub-neighbourhood like the three vacation destinations from World Adventures. When you send your sim off to University, time stops in the real world. However, unlike the vacation destinations, attending University has no visa restrictions and no cooldowns – as soon as you complete one term, you can go straight back if you wish. Sims younger than Young Adult can’t attend University; Adults and Elders can also enrol.

There are six degree programs in University Life: Business, Communications, Fine Arts, Physical Education Science & Medicine, and Technology. Graduating with a degree will give you an extra trait slot for your sim (so you can have six active traits), and will give you a headstart on careers related to your degree — if you graduate with a perfect GPA, you can enter a related career at level 4 instead of level 1, and your pay will be much higher than the equivalent level without a degree. If your Sim is already entrenched in a relevant career, graduation will give them an instant level boost and pay rise.

Preparing for University

If you’re creating a new Sim to try out the University experience, you may wish to tailor your traits appropriately. Some traits affect the University experience in general – for instance, the Ambitious trait helps Sims do better academically – while other traits affect a Sim’s suitability for a specific course of study. See the University Degrees list below for details of which traits affect each degree.

Getting to University: Enrolment and the Aptitude Test

You can enrol at any time from your computer or smart phone; once you’ve enrolled, a moving van turns up and whisks you away to the University sub-neighbourhood for a week or two. (Note that arriving at University also resets your moodlets, mood, and needs.) You can enrol for 6, 12 or 18 credits per term, and one or two terms at a time.

A completed Sims 3 - enrolling at University.

However, it’s worth taking a University Aptitude Test first, as this can offer you partial credit towards your studies, and a scholarship to pay for tuition and living expenses. The test is optional, and you can repeat it any time you’re not actually at University.

Molly Tanner answers the hard questions! Completing the Sims 3 University Aptitude Test.

You can find the Aptitude Test as part of the University Welcome Kit. This should be distributed to eligible Sims within a game day or two — it’s delivered by the University mascot, a llama called Ian. (Well, okay, it’s a guy in a llama suit.) If the llama never shows up, you can buy the welcome kit in Buy Mode instead – Sort by Function, and it’s under Entertainment > Misc Entertainment Items.

Getting Results on the Aptitude Test
Your results on the Aptitude Test are determined by your Sim’s work experience, skills, and childhood education. I don’t have concrete information on how childhood education and work experience affect test results, and traits do not appear to affect the results at all. However, skill ratings affect test results as follows.

Each sub-score can be improved by your level in one or more skills:

Business: Charisma, Mixology, Social Networking
Technology: Logic, Handiness, Inventing
Science & Medicine: Alchemy, Fishing, Gardening, Science
Fine Arts: Painting, Cooking, Guitar, Piano, Drums, Bass Guitar, Street Art, Sculpting, Nectar Making
Communications: Writing, Photography
Physical Education: Athletic, Martial Arts, Riding

Each subject is scored out of 400; the base score is 100 and each level in a related skill will add 27 points to your score in that area. A starting Young Adult Sim with no work experience, no relevant traits and no skills will still have some extra points in some subjects. They start at 932 of a maximum 2400 points, with three subjects at 100 points, two at 183 and one at 266, though which score goes to which subject seems to be randomly assigned per Sim.

However, note that any points above 100 that aren’t derived from skills get “soaked up” when you start levelling skills. As an example, take a skill-less Sim who starts with 183/400 sub-score for Business; when she starts learning Mixology, her Business sub-score will remain 183 until she’s earnt more than 83 points from skill gains. Her first three levels in Mixology won’t increase her sub-score past 183, but when she hits Mixology 4 her Business sub-score would go up to 208 (100 base plus 4 levels at 27 points each).

The Aptitude Test’s Benefits
These are twofold: excelling in a particular sub-score will give you credit towards a degree in that subject, and excelling overall will give you a scholarship which pays some of your University expenses.

  • At approximately 260/400 in a sub-score, the Sim receives an Apprentice (Subject) Medal, which will give 6 credits towards a degree in that subject.
  • At 370/400, this becomes a Distinguished (Subject) Medal, which gives 18 credits towards a degree.
  • At approximately 1200/2400 overall score, the Sim is granted a Partial Scholarship, which pays 1000 Simoleons per term.
  • At about 1800/2400, this becomes a Full Scholarship, which pays 2,500 Simoleons per term.

it’s worth getting the Distinguished Medal for the degree you wish to study; this will substantially cut down the number of terms you need to attend. This will take you 10 skill levels, but you can spread those around the relevant skills – it’s a lot faster to get level 2-3 in four skills than it is to max out a skill to 10. This will also get you close to the Partial Scholarship, so it’s worth picking up a level or two in a skill attached to another subject for the scholarship, if you haven’t already acquired this just from normal life. (Degrees cost $500-625 per term, so a scholarship will leave you several hundred Simoleons to pay rent and living expenses for the week.) Unless your Sim is really broke and you need the full scholarship, the Partial Scholarship should be enough, and it saves you from having to do an extra 34 skill levels before you’ve even gone to University for the first time.

A completed Sims 3 University Aptitude Test.

Hidden Skills and the Aptitude Test
As you may or may not know, there are a lot of Hidden Skills in the game. These act like normal skills, but you don’t get a progress meter for them, you can’t see them in your skill journal, and you can only increase them by practicing (no skill books or classes). If you’re curious, you can see a comprehensive list of Hidden Skills here. Mods exist to view your Hidden Skills’ progress meters and in your journal; if you use mods, I recommend Hidden Skills Unhidden for this, which does work with University Life. Note that not all hidden skills go to level 10; Dance, for example, only goes to level 3.

It’s going to take a lot of work to identify which hidden skills affect your subscores and which do not. So far, here’s what I know:

  • Arcade Games: does not affect scores.
  • Dance: does not affect scores.
  • Hacking: does not seem to affect scores.

(While testing these three skills I was able to get a one-off +75 increase to my Technology sub-score, but I have not been able to replicate this on other Sims.)

Arriving at University

Once you enter the University sub-neighbourhood, you’re stuck there for the study length you chose. You can choose where to live for each visit; dorms, fraternities and sororities are free for enrolled students, while there are also small houses available to rent if you can pay up-front. Dorms are co-educational, while fraternities and sororities are single-sex. The game refers to all three types of communal living as dorms, so I will too.

You’ll arrive at your residence, which acts like a vacation base camp — it has a kitchen, bathroom, recreational facilities, bedrooms for the resident(s), and a job board out the front which also acts as a mailbox. On the jobs front, you can get a part-time job as a student, but you can’t keep working at a normal career. If you’ve chosen a dorm, your roommates will also be standing around out the front, which is a handy chance to identify possible friends and meet some new people. You can also use the “Set Bed Ownership” feature to claim a bed if you’re in a dorm.

Like the World Adventures sub-neighbourhoods, you can’t visit or physically interact with your friends and acquaintances in your home town — you can still call them, though, and with the new smartphone in University Life you can text them, too.

The University Term

Once you’re at University, the Academics panel replaces the usual Career panel. It shows your chosen degree, your class schedule, your responsibilities, and your previous qualifications and current progress. Each term of study takes one week of game time, and your student obligations are heavier the more credits you choose to complete per term. You can’t complete a degree in a single term, even if you manage a perfect aptitude test for extra credit.

Sims 3 University Life - the Academic panel.

Much like a real student, your Sim has scheduled activities to complete.

  • You’ll arrive on a Sunday morning, giving you a day to settle in and meet people.
  • On Mondays you have seminars; each 6 credit increment adds an extra seminar to your schedule. Seminars are rabbit-hole activities.1
  • Tuesdays are “class activities”, where you take a subject-specific item and use it in a specific place. For instance, as a Technology student, you use the Cerebralizing Brain Enhancing Machine at Keith’s Komics.
  • Wednesdays are more seminars (rabbit-holes).
  • Thursdays are an interactive lecture for two game hours.
  • Fridays are exam days (rabbit-holes again).

A completed Sims 3 - a University class schedule.

Academic Success
Managing academic success is really just like managing career success: you need to juggle all the requirements to meet your Sim’s needs, and put the rest of your effort into the specific activities that will improve your academic performance. Those activities are: going to your seminars and lectures, doing your class activities, using your degree-specific item, improving the skills relevant to your degree, and studying outside of class time. There’s an academic performance meter, just like the career performance meter, so you can keep an eye on how you’re doing. Rabbit-hole activities have a range of tones from working hard to slacking off, so you can choose how good a student you wish to be.

Exams are on Fridays, and your results are based on your academic performance during the term. You can also cheat by creating a Cheat Sheet for exams, and by having other Sims do your homework and go to class for you, but there’s a risk of getting caught. It’s rumoured that the “Rebellious” trait helps you get away with cheating, but I don’t have confirmation of that yet. Graduating with perfect results (an A) will let you enter a relevant profession at level 4; less-than perfect results will yield less of a pay boost and a lower entry point. For instance, a B on your degree offers level 3 career positions.

In general, try to avoid taking a part-time job while studying unless your Sim is really skint; you’re better off securing another source of funding such as writer royalties, hacking or gambling. Hacking is somewhat risky as its time restrictions may make it hard to stick to a daytime class schedule unless you’re scrupulous about managing your Sim’s sleep schedule; however, hacking does synergise nicely with the Technology degree path, so if you’re careful it can pay off. The Steel Bladder and Dirt Defiant lifetime rewards also really come into their own for busy students.

University Degrees

Regarding the “associated traits”, this is based on the information provided in Create-A-Sim mode. (Traits listed in brackets are extra traits recommended on the University Aptitude Test screen.) It’s not yet clear whether a “helpful” trait actually affects your academic performance, or whether it just provides synergy. For example, does the “Charismatic” trait actually help your Business grades, or is it just recommended based on the fact that the careers related to a Business degree are generally those where Charisma is helpful?

Careers: Business, Criminal
Associated Traits: Charismatic, Evil, Frugal, Genius, Mooch, Perceptive, (Born Salesman), (Workaholic), (Ambitious)
Harmful Traits: None listed
Associated Skills: Charisma, Mixology, Social Networking

Careers: Law Enforcement, Military
Associated Traits: Brave, Computer Whiz, Daredevil, Handy, (Genius), (No Sense of Humour), (Good), (Eccentric)
Harmful Traits: Coward
Associated Skills: Logic, Handiness, Inventing

Science & Medicine
Careers: Medicine, Science
Associated Traits: Angler, Gatherer, Green Thumb, (Genius), (Bookworm), (Perfectionist), (Socially Awkward), (Perceptive)
Harmful Traits: None listed
Associated Skills: Alchemy, Fishing, Gardening, Science

Fine Arts
Careers: Culinary, Film, Music
Associated Traits: Artistic, Avant Garde, Natural Born Performer, Natural Cook, Savvy Sculptor, Star Quality, (Genius), (Virtuoso), (Rebellious)
Harmful Traits: Can’t Stand Art
Associated Skills: Painting, Cooking, Guitar, Piano, Drums, Bass Guitar, Street Art, Sculpting, Nectar Making

Careers: Fortune Teller, Journalist, Politician
Associated Traits: Bookworm, Schmoozer, Social Butterfly, Workaholic, (Genius), (Charismatic), (Irresistable), (Flirty)
Harmful Traits: Loner, Loser, Shy
Associated Skills: Writing, Photography

Physical Education
Careers: Professional Sports
Associated Traits: Athletic, Disciplined, (Genius), (Loves the Outdoors)
Harmful Traits: Clumsy, Couch Potato
Associated Skills: Athletic, Martial Arts, Riding

General Traits
Helpful: Ambitious
Harmful: Absent-Minded

  • Night Owl isn’t mentioned one way or the other, but it may count as a negative as it could make it hard to get to morning classes.
  • Photographer’s Eye may help with Social Networking-based characters, as bloggers can post photos to their blog using the Photography features introduced in World Adventures. Taking photos for your blog does improve your Photography skill.

The University Sub-Neighbourhood

Note that in buy mode, you can edit the entire dorm you live in, not just your room. You can also edit the town as a whole and add custom dorms, new houses and so on, just like any other town.

Here’s a map of the sub-neighborhood. More distant areas look somewhat warped, due to the way the Sims 3 map view works. Click the image to see a bigger version of the image (1280*720), or download a 1920*1080 version here.

Sims 3 University Life - Sims University map.

See the Sims University Map post for a full list of the Sims University community buildings and rabbit-holes.

  1. For new players: a “rabbit hole” is a building where you just get a progress bar to indicate the activity’s completion, instead of seeing inside the building to control your actions directly.

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27 Responses to “The Sims 3 University Life guide, part 1: attending University”

  1. Gloria
    March 9, 2013 at 21:38 #

    Thank you :)

    • March 10, 2013 at 01:30 #

      You’re welcome! Glad it was helpful. :)

  2. Rob
    March 10, 2013 at 21:45 #

    One small mistake: Tuesdays and Thursdays are the wrong way round. Tuesdays are the lectures, with Thursdays are “class activities. Nevertheless, great info that I was searching for; especially the skills for the various majors.

    • March 10, 2013 at 22:12 #

      As you can see from my screenshot, for my Technology student Sim, it was lectures on Thursdays and class activities on Tuesdays. If your schedule was different, then I suspect the Tuesday/Thursdays probably either change randomly when you enrol, or vary based on which degree you’ve chosen. Which major did you choose?

      And I’m glad it proved helpful! I was getting lost trying to find useful info online, so I figured there was a need for a guide. :)

  3. Rob
    March 11, 2013 at 08:02 #

    You’re absolutely right on the need for info! I’ve done a Business, and Fine Arts. I’ll have a look and do a little test myself shortly, as I have plans for my sim to gain ALL the degrees! I have a mod for the season length and age length, so I actually have a proper human lifespan, with 365 days a year, and about 70-80 years lifespan.

    • March 11, 2013 at 09:17 #

      That sounds like a great mod – what is it? I’ve turned off aging as it’s just too fast for me, but with a mod like that it would be much better, I think.

  4. Rob
    March 11, 2013 at 09:33 #

    Aaah, I think it’s “Aging Mod” on


    The seasons one, I think, is “Longer Seasons”


    I edited them out, which needs the use of “Sim3pe”. It’s takes a fair bit of playing around to get the age limits high enough, but once it’s done, it makes life real easy!

    If you’re interested, the days I set were roughly:

    Baby – 373
    Toddler – 1117
    Child – 3347
    Teen – 1961
    Young Adult – 1250
    Adult – 16000
    Elder – 6692

    That gives a RL lifespan of around 84 years. Possibly a little high, but my sim is a bit of a fitness freak who trains for at least 4 hours a day.

    • March 11, 2013 at 10:50 #

      That looks awesome — I’ll have to give those a whirl. Those numbers look a lot more reasonable (and fun to play with) than what the game offers.

  5. Carron Lodder
    March 12, 2013 at 14:16 #

    My sims are married and have mastered several skills. They also completed a degree in fine arts. I now want to send them back to Uni for a degree in Medicine. They enrol, the van arrives taking my Sims but when they arrive at Uni they are not there. Create a household comes up. Any suggestions please as I would like to progress and not start over

    • March 12, 2013 at 14:46 #

      Honestly, that sounds like a nasty bug. I’d recommend checking the forums at Carl’s; they usually have good information there, and you might find someone who has had the same issue and found a solution. It’s not something I’ve encountered, and I can’t think of what could be causing it.

  6. MckinneyMini
    March 17, 2013 at 05:09 #

    I must say, I loved your guide!! I was really annoyed when I found out no “Official” guide was published for University Life as it is an expansion where a guide would have proved useful and, well, I collect them ;-). You are so in depth and I loved this post. I am off to see if there is another part to this post so I can read more :-). Lovely work!!

    • March 17, 2013 at 16:32 #

      Glad you found it so useful! There is indeed a second part, here, with all the extra content in the expansion pack.

  7. Alysha
    May 1, 2013 at 05:29 #

    If you’re looking for way to learn skills quickly (and you have an origin account), go to the sims 3 website and go to the sims 3 store. Then go to the premium content section, and click on entertainment. You can purchase the MultiTab 6000 for 500 simpoints. It gives you the option to listen to tabcasts on Charisma, Cooking, Fishing, Guitar ,Handiness, Logic, Nectar Making Photography, and Writing skills. This tool definetely comes in hand. I would high suggest putting in your personal inventory.

    • May 1, 2013 at 23:21 #

      Awesome, thankyou for the tip! I hadn’t looked at much of the store content yet – I usually save my points for the new worlds. But that definitely sounds worth splashing out on.

  8. Bianca
    June 5, 2013 at 09:17 #

    HI, I left University and I want to see my friends I met at the University, but I can’t call them, invite them over, and I can’t even text them! How do I chat/see my friends from university?! Please reply, thank you.

    • June 7, 2013 at 19:34 #

      I’m afraid I don’t actually know, I’m sorry.

  9. Jaime
    July 1, 2013 at 00:54 #

    Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance
    from an established blog. Is it very hard to set up your own blog?
    I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about
    creating my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions? Thanks

    • July 1, 2013 at 09:56 #

      If you’ve never run your own blog before, I recommend starting with, which will handle all the hosting for you so you don’t have to worry about the technical side of things. It’s an excellent service, and while it doesn’t have all the flexibility of self-hosted blogs, it’s very powerful.

  10. tory
    July 5, 2013 at 09:52 #

    i wish i could play the game but it is giving alot of problem

  11. Kai
    July 16, 2013 at 14:19 #

    Hiya! I have also have sims Ambitions and want my sim to be a Home Design Hotshot, Is there any benefit for my young sim to go into the university? How do both expansions work with each other do you know?

  12. Aimee
    August 28, 2013 at 03:18 #

    Can you enrol while your a teenager +? As in do you have to be young adult, or just teenager to enrol? Also, do you not start out on the university town, do you have to have a house else where and then enrol which will make you move to university. Thanks x

    • Rob
      September 8, 2013 at 11:20 #

      Q: Can you enrol while your a teenager +? As in do you have to be young adult, or just teenager to enrol?

      A: You have to be at least Young Adult.

      Q: Also, do you not start out on the university town, do you have to have a house else where and then enrol which will make you move to university.

      A: You must be in a usual neighborhood, just as the start of a normal game. A mascot will arrive soon after, and leave a University pack including a test. This test will give you a scholarship fee, to pay towards the university fees. This scholarship depends on your skills, and, if you are high enough in multiple skills you may well make money while at uni.

      Hope this helps.

  13. christine
    September 4, 2013 at 07:15 #

    I just installed this EP and so far so good, except none of my roommates will either sleep (I’ve assigned beds to everyone) or use the toilet the just complain and pass out. Is this a bug?

  14. shin
    January 21, 2014 at 01:24 #

    Is my career level boost based on which degree i got? Etc i got the degree of physical education and i want to work as a lifeguard, will i start with it at level 4 because of the phy education degree?

  15. Hindo
    March 22, 2014 at 21:56 #

    How can my sim get a perfect GPA ?

  16. Shba
    January 17, 2015 at 17:50 #

    How can I control the rest of my family? Will they continue living while my other sim is away?


  1. The Sims 3 University Life guide, part 2: general content | Siha Games! - March 15, 2013

    […] and there’s not much in the way of comprehensive guides out there. I’ve already posted Part 1 of this guide, covering the process of preparing for, enrolling at, and attending University; this part discusses […]

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