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BSc (Hons) Geography

The step up from school to university is probably one of the biggest (and most exciting!) ones you will take in your educational career. One minute you’re in the midst of being chased for coursework, making appointments for parents evening and asking to go to the toilet in class, and the next… you’re having to sort everything out for yourself with your new profound independence! Arriving at university whether you move away from home or not, is super liberating. The feelings of freedom, independence and responsibility feel like a glimpse into almost-adult life! Although, as exciting as this may feel, there are also insecurities that come with leaving old support networks of teachers and parents in a school environment.

Things may be a little different from what you’re used to
Depending on the type of sixth form/college/school you attended, you may or may not be familiar with teachers chasing around after you for that late piece of coursework or your parents receiving phone calls from your head of faculty when you don’t turn up to class. At university, all these things will become distant memories. Independent learning is highly encouraged in all aspects at university, and the only person responsible for it is you. This can feel a little daunting, but it doesn’t have to. Like with anything, you will eventually adjust to the situation and even start to take pride in your new independence.

My experience of the transition: university work
Take essays for example. Chances are that essays you have written at school will be very different to those you submit in university. Don’t be worried if you get confused with citations, referencing and new higher expectations of you… (I spent a good chunk of my first few weeks at uni wondering what “et al.” meant). These things may seem very new and different to you at first, but you will soon learn that they are merely minor accessories to your work and what really matters is your personal style of writing that will develop over time.

In my experience, throughout sixth form during my A-Levels there was no other option than to become the master of time management anyway to survive the workload, so I felt as though I had a little bit of a leg up. That isn’t to say that I didn’t feel very overwhelmed at first! I managed to adapt to this new style of learning within the first few months, but everyone will adjust at their own pace, which is fine! Rest assured: probably 99% of your classmates feel the same way you do.

Ask for support 
For me now, as a final year student in the midst of finishing off assignments and my university experience in a very very strange and uncertain time having limited contact with my academics, I feel thankful to have learned skills of independent learning. My main advice to anyone worried about this transition would be to just ask ask ask! If you are not sure about something or need a little more guidance with an assignment etc. then make sure you communicate that so that someone can help you! Although independent learning is encouraged, suffering in silence certainly is not! Lecturers will be pleased to see that you are being proactive with your learning if you reach out to ask questions, and they will be more than happy to help.

I hope this helped anyone who feels a little unsteady to transition into university life… this is a completely normal way to feel! You will get the hang of it in no time!

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