It is well-known that transitioning from school to university is a huge change, as cliché as that may sound. The idea of new people, academic expectations and a new city creates a rational fear of the unknown, anxiety about starting university can even spiral into something more overwhelming. A few weeks before I moved to London to start Comparative Literature at King’s College London, I tried to prepare myself by trawling through blogs, vlogs and anything else I could get my hands on to get more of an idea of what to expect. The only issue was that for a niche degree like Comparative Literature, it was next to impossible to find anything course-specific, but that’s about to change. So, here’s a blog about transitioning from school to university, to make your transition from school to university easier.
First things first: the teaching. Having studied both English Language and English Literature at A-Level, I thought I was reasonably well-prepared to start a BA in Comparative Literature at King’s. Granted, the weekly reading workload seemed slightly overwhelming at first, but organised lists quickly became an underrated lifesaver. Regarding contact time, only having one hour long scheduled seminar per module made the timetable seem deceptively sparse, but once the lectures and readings are factored in it became clear why we had so much time for independent study.
Overall, I set aside the first week or two for figuring out the best routine for readings and lectures and what order to complete them in, which worked well. As tempting as it may be to wing the first couple of months of teaching, binge watching several weeks’ worth of lectures in one night is about as tempting as it sounds.
Having the freedom to choose your optional modules is one of the highlights of a university course in comparison to school or Sixth Form. Usually, Comparative Literature has two compulsory modules per term and credits wise, you normally need 4 modules each semester to make up the credit requirement. Aside from the two compulsory modules, you can choose another module from a couple of options from the Comparative Literature department and a module from the Arts and Humanities faculty. Universities try to be flexible with timetables, so most of the time you have a couple of weeks to swap modules if they don’t work out.
The idea of writing university-level essays with references, higher word counts, and more complicated texts is probably the most daunting one when considering the transition from school to university. However, the good news is that no lecturer will expect you to get everything in the right place for your first essays. Plus, the MHRA referencing guide King’s recommends for Arts and Humanities courses will help get the hang of footnotes and italics. You’re also expected to write essays at university independently, as although you’re encouraged to book office hours with lecturers to ask any questions and finetune your ideas, they’re much less involved than schoolteachers in the actual writing process.
General points on moving away from home
Aside from course-related anxiety, the transition from school to university often comes with moving to a new city and living with new people. It may sound like a no-brainer, but it is important to remember that every first year is in the same position when it comes to leaving home and that support is there if you need it. Ultimately, visiting the university campus, looking around the local area and researching housing options before the move can help to feel more in control once the awaited day finally arrives.