Would you want to abandon your cute little sister to the random blows of fate, growing up without your guidance, knowing you at most as a dim memory? Then play this game as advertised. But I warn you: That way lies sorrow and loss.
The Sims 2: University was my first and favorite expansion for that game, and The Sims 3: University Life was one of my favorites too, albeit after Supernatural and perhaps tied with Into the Future. So it was with fairly high expectations (by Sims 4 standards) that I bought The Sims 4: Discover University. Unfortunately, after playing it for some days, my feelings are definitely more mixed.
Discover University has a wealth of content. In addition to the whole university experience, which is realized in more detail than ever before (as usual with Sims 4) there are three new careers, one of which actually looks interesting. (I have generally not bothered with careers in Sims 4, because they require a lot of micromanagement and you can live a simpler, happier life earning money from home: Painting, gardening, writing and programming each can easily support a family that’s not bent on extreme luxury.) Engineering seems to allow the construction of a number of unique objects that just might justify the extra complexity. But before we get that far, a severe warning is in order.
At the heart of any University expansion is the campus experience itself. This time it is voluntary, as you can also live at home and just go to campus for classes (lectures) and to use the library which is open to the public. And a good thing too! Think twice before you leave your home to move into a dorm. Not that living there is a horrible experience, although this depends a bit on your flatmates. But the whole flow of time is changed from the earlier games, and not for the better.
When you move to a dorm this time, you really move out. If you are part of a family, the rest of the family will now become non-played characters: They will age up, but they won’t do anything with their lives. (Unless you have a story progressing mod like MC Command Center, in which case they will progress like every other sim family out there.) You are basically leaving them to their fate.
In Sims 2 you also moved out from home, but time did not progress for households you did not play. So you could either move back in and nothing had changed, or you could (as I did) switch between them so your family aged up at a realistic speed. In Sims 3 you did not age up at university, and time did not move in your home neighborhood either. You could go home between semesters and take them at your own pace.
Now, everyone ages up, and they age a lot. Sims have always spent an unreasonably long time at university, but in the previous versions it did not matter. Now, it matters. You MUST change the lifespan from the default “Normal” to “Long” before you start using the University features, or tragicomedy will ensue.
The duration of a single career-oriented degree with the highest course load is 3 semesters, each of one week, so 21 days. In comparison, the entire young adult life phase is 24 days by default. That is, if you apply for University and scholarship when you become a young adult, and it takes three days before you have your acceptance papers (there is some processing time now, you can’t just call and move in) then you are halfway to elder when you have your degree. Even here in Norway, we have a ways to go before that!
What is arguably worse is if your sim is part of a family. The entire teen life phase is 14 days and childhood is 13. So if your kid brother is halfway through grade school when you leave, he is an adult when you graduate! Siriusly? And in the final dagger strike to the heart of the family-oriented sim: Elder “guaranteed” lifespan is a measly 10 days, which means your student may leave his parents in their golden years near the top of their career and still with smallish children, and get a phone call at university that they have passed away from old age. Not cool.
Changing to long lifespan before you go to college mitigates all of this. But the fact remains that your family turns into non-playable characters that waste their lives in your absence, thanks to the artificial stupidity of the game. But at least you may be able to fix some of it when you rejoin the family.
Of course, if you are done with that family when your student moves out and you want to start a new chapter with the parents and siblings (if any) fading into the background, then the game works as intended. You still should change to long lifespan for the duration of the studies, though, because of the ridiculous length of the studies.
I have gone on about this at length because it can completely ruin your gameplay if you’re not aware of it and simply expect things to work similarly to the earlier games in the series. Also because I’ve seen rather a lot of reviews and playthrough videos, and none of them get this point across (in fact, almost none of them even hint at it). This makes sense because the first thing you do if you are a professional reviewer is create a new young adult sim and either apply for university right away or build up a few skills so you can get scholarship, then off to campus.
But in practice, almost all simmers will be playing families 90+% of the time, and it is here that the expansion is fatally flawed unless you take care. In that case, unless you are ready to switch to a brand new generational chapter (not to say a sequel) in your family dynasty, you should probably let your sims attend classes from home instead. And still at long lifespan until they graduate, if not longer.