In my lead up to leaving my secondary school (which also acted as my college) to University, I found the transition difficult, particularly in the differences in structure. I know that for many young people, whether going to university or not, it’s a hard experience to go into the unknown. As a person with some experience now, I hope to put your mind at ease, even if not completely, but just a little, during this transition, particularly in this time where nothing really feels right
The Workload can vary
For people coming out of A-levels, it was a time of having an extreme revision of a lot of content for exams. This may be something you never want to do again because of this. University is similar but not the stereotype of being A levels on high energy. Instead, most of your First-year work will be things you may have covered already and then build-up to the new elements. Lectures are similar to classes with the typical PowerPoint and taking notes, however, there are also seminars later on that are much more suited for you, instead of waiting behind to ask your teacher a question about your work after class. Instead, you have an hour with other people in your course to, not only ask questions but also get other perspectives that may change your mind. In many courses, you don’t have to go in every day, similar to college, but this time is not just to do homework but also do research on your own. In my opinion, University is a perfect space for people who don’t mind doing some extra work. As you work through your modules, it may appear that because you study one thing (or two if doing a joint degree) that you do less, but like college, you will have more substantial work instead to build your understanding.
In my experience, self-study was always the main focus at University. The majority of my teachers are good at what they do because they don’t need to specify that they are knowledgable. You already know that they are (partially because half of the books you will read are written by them) but also because they trust you enough that you can answer your own questions and solve your own problems instead of relying on the teacher. This can be one of the hardest things to adjust to, but the way to get over this is through doing your own research. If you simply rely on what your lecturer tells you throughout your degree, you will not get the full experience. Instead, you should gain more experiences. A good way to do this is not just to talk to your lecturers but perhaps reach out to other lecturers in different modules too to gain their view in order to eventually come to your own.
For this reason, most of the best teachers in my university experience acted more like hype-men and give advice rather than lead us to conclusions for the entire time. This transition is hard to get around but it is important for students when going into careers. Just make sure you still ask as many questions as possible.
- Freedom and looking after yourself
For many people, going to University means freedom you don’t experience being surrounded by your family. It’s almost like a temptation once you get there, your focus is on making friends, making memories and going clubbing because now you can. However, these wants also distract you from the more negative elements of becoming an adult which you may not need to think of in school. One of the examples may be feeding yourself and being away from home. For some, this isn’t a problem but being in a new atmosphere and environment distracts from learning. In college, there is an intensity which people again want to avoid and University, for the most part, can do that, however, this will only happen if you plan. It is important to find in your first year, while things are little more relaxed, a balance between work and social life, such as doing 4 hours of revision a day on the lead up to exams or going out at least for 2 hours a day to see a friend. The main thing is to build a plan that can be challenging at times but also allows there to be some pacing.
Once you have that, the university may become easier and less pressing on you and your mental health, which is the most important thing to look after.
Uni is a strange experience, to say the least between the so-called real world and childhood but this makes it the time in which you can start to figure out who you are, what you want and start to build it. In this time, it may be hard to know that but uni will continue differently through zoom and if they can continue so can you.
Em’s tip- It’s okay not to understand who you are as an artist, explore and try new things and don’t feel you need to stick to one thing to be popular, versatility is a good trait to have and being able to adapt is even better.
Also, take your vitamins.