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The transition from school to university

The transition from school to university


Many students enjoy the intellectual challenge of university study, opting for courses and subject matters that match their interests. However, learning how to adapt to a new, more independent style of academic study and understanding what is expected of you as a university student can be an intimidating experience. There are a number of factors for you to consider in order to make the change go as smoothly as possible…

The ways in which you learnt, studied and completed assignments at school will differ considerably to how you will do so at university. There are a variety of teaching and learning methods; some are below...


Lectures-  these are intended to introduce or give more detail on particular content in your course, and will be divided up according to subject area. Ensure you attend lectures as they will lay down the foundations of the content you have to research independently.


Independent study- your whole method of learning will become much more independent than at school. Lecturers won’t chase you up on deadlines, tell you the best resource you should use to complete an assignment or tell you how much study time you should be putting aside; you will have to work this all out for yourself. 


Finding resources- your lecture slides will make up only a small part of your content material, and you will be expected to read around the subject. Other sources will include textbooks, journal articles and the web. Lecturers will often provide you with a list of where to find extra information which is related to a certain topic.



The volume and pace of your workload will differ from that at school. As opposed to being fairly steady, it may become irregular with some weeks seeming stress free and others being much more demanding. The only way to deal with this is to manage your time effectively. Below are some tips on how to do this...

Planning ahead- learning to prioritize and leave plenty of time for assignments is crucial, especially at the beginning when finding resources may take a little longer than usual. Making a calendar of important deadlines can help you to spread your workload out evenly over a given time period.

Utilising ‘stress free’ time-
As opposed to time periods where deadlines are constantly dawning and you are under pressure, it is likely that you will also experience times where you could just sit back and relax with no worries. As tempting as this may be, it’s a good idea to use this time constructively; below are some of the ways in which you can do so...


Ensure that you keep on top of reading and revision. Having put in this effort earlier on, you will minimize stress and give yourself the best chance of success when exams finally come around.


Begin working on assignments which you know will be tough to complete; you will find out which parts you don't understand, have the extra time to ask tutors for help and be able to search for key sources of information.


Look over lectures which you have previously remembered. This will allow you to chase up related journal articles and make any useful notes.


General Links


Making the most of your lectures- here is a guide on how to get the most benefit from your lectures.


Taking notes- find out more about how to make effective notes that you can use as study mateiral from your lectures.


Top tips for independent learning- information on why independent learning is important and how you can get better at it.


Reading around a subject- tips on how to go about your extra reading.


Time management - here is a useful link to some different ways in which you can manage your time more effectively.