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!
- Part 1: The University Experience
- Preparing for University
- Getting to University: Enrolment and the Aptitude Test
- Getting Results on the Aptitude Test
- The Aptitude Test’s Benefits
- Hidden Skills and the Aptitude Test
- Arriving at University
- The University Term
- Academic Success
- University Degrees
- The University Sub-Neighborhood
- Part 2: General Content
- Sims University Map
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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
Careers: Professional Sports
Associated Traits: Athletic, Disciplined, (Genius), (Loves the Outdoors)
Harmful Traits: Clumsy, Couch Potato
Associated Skills: Athletic, Martial Arts, Riding
- 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.
See the Sims University Map post for a full list of the Sims University community buildings and rabbit-holes.
- 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. ↩