It doesn’t matter if you are coming to university from school, college or after a break, there is quite a step change in the way it works to your experience to date. In this blog I will briefly point out the key differences. Understanding these will save you time and make the transition smoother. I am constantly surprised that more isn’t made of these differences as I see first year undergraduates dazed and confused by the new world they find themselves in. It is different – but it doesn’t have to be frightening or set your progress back.
I think it’s best to summarise the differences in a diagram:
So you will see that whilst university (hopefully!) means you are focussed on the topics you really love and there is a lot of freedom in how you manage your time, there is also far less structure. In other words, you will need to find things out yourself without being told. Sometimes at first it might even feel that you are being cast adrift to work things out for yourself.
This means that perhaps the biggest challenge for students starting at university is that it can feel like you are being left to your own devices. And this isn’t entirely the case. You are going to end up more self contained and this means you will be given more challenges to face. But there is support and it all happens for a reason. And the reason is education. University is about being stretched. Hopefully your lecturers will do this whilst giving you the right amount of support. More about how to get the best out of your lecturers here Getting ready for university: ask
And don’t worry. All your fellow students will feel the same. Even if they try not to show it. Talk to them. They are in the same boat as you and finding that you are amongst fellow travellers is really very helpful.