Mind the gap; transitioning from studying at school to University

– By Ginny  

Moving from school to university is a huge change in everyone’s life – not just academically but socially too. It takes some time to adjust, but with a bit of help we can make the transition a little easier!  

 Academically, the style of learning is the biggest change that I have encountered so far. At University, you are expected to demonstrate proactiveness and organisational skills in your learning patterns as you are responsible for preparing for the weekly seminars on your own through the help of the lecture recordings, primary readings and secondary resources provided by your lecturer. This is an essential step as it will enable you to get the most out of the classes if you do prepare well in advance and ensure a better experience if you are able to engage in discussions with your classmates. 

Especially for Liberal Arts students, it is vital that you cultivate an independent voice as you will have the opportunity to choose modules across departments as a part of your degree and explore your interests. Additionally, as you hop in and out of other departments for modules, you will need to keep track of assignments, credits and timetable, as you can be doing something entirely differently to the rest of your Liberal Arts course mates. Once you figure out where all the information is (on KEATS!), your life will be much easier; however, even then it can be very easy to miss things once the semester is in full swing and there are a lot of other things going on at the same time.   

Your timetable might look quite empty to you at first, but that is just a decoy! Your timetabled classes will probably amount to 8 hours per week (including lectures), which means that you will need to manage and organise the rest of your time effectively so you can complete all your tasks. This is a marked difference to studying at school, where the 9 hours of your day were completely scheduled and organised for you! My top tip: get a planner with a page per day – you need space to write out everything you need to do. This is an effective way to manage your time clearly and set daily tasks!  

Naturally, a study / life balance can be tricky to achieve, but it is still very important to maintain in order to get the best out of everything. Societies are a great way to lighten up the work stress as they allow you to focus on something other than your academics and are an amazing opportunity to meet people with similar interests as you. Societies are run by students, not by staff members like at school, so they are also a great way to learn how to manage and run organisations. Some societies are related to academic degrees, but some are there just for fun like the Harry Potter Society! Both can really help in enhancing your experience at the university, so don’t be shy and sign up to some!  

Getting involved in student life is another fantastic way to ease homesickness or overwhelmingness of a busy academic life! It’s a great way to take some time off and clear your headspace, whilst still engaging in something you enjoy, and therefore, they can help in motivating you to study when you know you have a fun social to look forward to later in the day as a reward for your hard work!  


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